|On arrival at Indiana University (IU), Bernard was told that he must
first complete a M.Sc. degree in Education, before proceeding to study
for a Ph.D. in Geography .He found much of the course work, and most of
the lectures, dull and uninspiring, but he steadily did what was required.
IU is located in Bloomington, Indiana, a pleasant mid-west small town,
and is in Brown County, noted for its glorious Fall colours. Snow is common
in winter, but it is seldom bitterly cold, and Bernard readily adapted
to, and appreciated, his new environment.
In his first year , Bernard stayed at the Graduate Residence Centre, a convenient base for him. In 1960, while staying there, Bernard rushed ( in those days he was always rushing ) downstairs, to do his laundry in the basement; the janitor had just washed the steel steps, which were still wet, and in the dark – the lamp bulb having burnt out – Bernard slipped, bumping his head on the steel steps. Despite realising that he was seriously injured, Bernard staggered back to his room, where, fortunately a friend found him, and immediately called an ambulance. He was taken to the Robert Long Hospital in Indianapolis, the state capital, where it was found that he had “broken his neck “ –two spinal vertebrae were badly smashed.. He had a long stay, nearly two months , in hospital, much of the time lying in traction, unable to move, in a men’s ward. Bernard made light of his period in hospital, but it must have been trying ,to say the least. The ward TV was on, full volume, all day, and Bernard learnt every TV advertising jingle; for years afterwards he would amuse us by his accurate rendition of the glib Corn Flakes, Chewing Gum, and other banal songs.
I was then at the University of Ghana, and, not having received Bernard’s usual weekly letter, I became frantic, and eventually managed to telephone IU, which put me through to the hospital, where, to my huge relief, I was able to speak to Bernard. He was then still flat on his back, and later he told me that the African-American nurse, who brought him the telephone to his bed, was thrilled because “I spoke to Africa .That call was from Africa” Transatlantic calls were not common then .
While Bernard was in hospital, several young prisoners, who had escaped from a nearby penitentiary , were re-captured and brought into his ward. It was a cold winter when the men escaped, and , as they were shod only in thin sneakers, they had severe frostbite. Bernard was indignant and furious at the way the men , who were screaming in agony, were ill treated by the callous guards. All that Bernard, who was mobile by then, could do was to offer them cigarettes, which he then lit for them . (This was 1960, when cigarettes were still acceptable gifts). As a foreign student, all Bernard’s medical treatment , which included two operations on his neck, were covered by IU’s insurance policy.
Thanks to the skill of the doctors, Bernard made a good recovery, and was able, after two months, to resume his studies, and to start swimming again. But the accident left him with several problems, some of which surfaced years later. These included Meniere’s Disease (balance problems), tinnitus and narcolepsy ; regular visits to a neurologist continued for twenty years.
He soon had a circle of good friends, including many other foreign students.
Chancellor Herman Wells, head of IU, had decided that because IU was tucked
away in the middle of the U.S., far from the rest of the world, he would
bring the world to IU. And he did , providing generous support, and
attracting hundreds of foreign students. 1960 was at the height of the
Cold War , so funds were available .Also, Africa had been “discovered”
by the U.S., and IU had one of the best African Studies programmes
in the country. Bernard took a keen interest in African Studies, attending
seminars in Political Science and Anthropology. IU was also noted for Slavic
students, and Bernard’s friends included Vadim, a Russian school administrator
As well as the formal academic disciplines, IU has a great reputation for Music and Opera. Bernard regularly attended not only the formal performances, but also the frequent student recitals , becoming friendly with many young singers and musicians. Several of Bernard’s student friends were married,. and Bernard was in demand as a reliable baby-sitter, guaranteed to delight and look after the children, while their parents went out – as often as not to a football match. Bernard did watch a few football games, observing closely all the rituals, but he was not as enthusiastic as his American pals.
In his second year at IU, Bernard enrolled in the much more congenial Department of Geography, where Professor George Kimble was an established authority in African Geography. Bernard still had some “drudge work” to do, with required courses, which he tackled with determination. In addition to his studies, Bernard enjoyed a lively social life. He moved out of graduate residence to a comfortable flat on the outskirts of the university , and enjoyed preparing his own meals again after the rather bland fare at the Graduate Residence Centre.
Bernard and I managed to meet from time to time, either through serendipity, or by careful planning . In September 1960, when I was teaching at the University of Ghana, I made my first visit to the U.S., attending the annual conference of the African Studies Association at Hartford ,Connecticut. Bernard was also there, of course, and we were able to spend a few weeks together, partly in New York City, at the Upper West Side flat of our friends Willard and Lily Rhodes. I was able to take leave from the University of Ghana, and to teach at Western Washington University College, in Bellingham, Washington, for the Fall Quarter of 1960. Quite co-incidentally, by a curious chance Bernard had taught summer school that year at this same college, so he helped my entry, recommending friends, places to visit, and the convenient apartment which he had occupied. Bernard earned enough in the six weeks to buy a new Volkswagen, when he returned to IU.
In December that year, I came by train from the West Coast to Bloomington, Indiana, where Bernard , his beard frozen, met me on the freezing station platform., and introduced me to IU. We spent Christmas and New Year in New York City, where we had been offered a Greenwich apartment.
Then, by a wonderful co-incidence, Professor Kimble was asked
to recommend a replacement lecturer in Geography at the University of Ghana,
for the year 1961/1962. The regular lecturer, John Hunter,
had been seconded to take part in the first Census of Ghana. Bernard was
an obvious choice, as he was preparing a dissertation comparing the
natural resources of Ghana and Zambia . We shared a pleasant university
house at Legon. Again, Bernard enjoyed the teaching, the field trips and
his introduction to an independent African state. I spent a few days
each week at Larteh, less than an hour’s drive away, at
my research location, which Bernard visited when he could ,
soon becoming a favourite of the chief and elders. Every Sunday we made
a point of going to Labadi Beach, where Bernard befriended
a group of Russian engineers and crew of the Iluyshin aircraft which
President Nkrumah had ordered, and which lay idle at Accra Airport. Bernard,
with the help of an English speaker, told the eager Russians about the
marine life; he and I taught the men how to body-surf, and we exchanged
a few dramatic dinners..
Bernard had become accustomed to celebrating Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday of November, so we gave a special Thanksgiving dinner for the twenty or so young Americans who were teaching nearby, with the newly formed Peace Corps. We remain in touch with several of our guests. The logistics involved ordering a turkey from the University Farm weeks in advance and having it cooked in the kitchens of a student hall of residence. We also had to deal with an enormous scorpion which joined the party. Bernard was pleased to have been with me in Ghana, and his stay was invaluable for his dissertation, but he did find the heat and humidity trying, in the hot season, and was relieved to be back in the cooler climate of Indiana.
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