by: Carol D. Smith
Spring 1970. It
was absolutely my last semester at San Jose State College.
My Major was Social Sciences (Liberal Arts) with a Minor in
Psychology. I was not a
serious student, but I did well enough to stay off academic probation.
I was a sorority girl and a political conservative.
Both being very unpopular positions in the late-1960’s.
I registered for Sociology 171 – Personality and
Social Structure – only to fulfill requisites for Upper Division
classes so I could graduate with a B.A. in June.
I figured I could knock-off any term papers and still go about the
business of planning for a wedding. The
date was set for the week after Commencement.
The class exceeded my personal agenda.
It shook me to my toes and altered the way I looked at things.
I “grew up” in the course of writing two term papers.
I have kept everything – the worksheets, the numerous handouts
that teaching assistants (TA’s) distributed, the lengthy book list, and
the papers I wrote.
Dr. Salisbury was demanding.
This was the warning emblazoned on the assignment for the first
term paper: “If the paper
you write is not passing (C-) in quality of ideas, composition and form,
it will be returned to you to do over until you get it right.”
He was a stickler for format. He assigned a book that finally laid out (for me) how to
write a decent paper, Encounter with Sociology: The Term Paper.
I started to read. And read. And read.
I was consumed with ideas. I
bought a package of 3 x 5 index cards.
I had notes arranged across the floor of my room at the sorority
house. I borrowed an electric
typewriter and I started to compose.
The first term paper was delivered late (March 12, instead of March
5) but I got an A-plus. Dr. Salisbury wrote on the cover page, “This is an
excellent paper, and in terms of scholarship & comparison of ideas
from different sources, the best one handed in.
Really worth waiting for …. The coverage & your outside
reading was really impressive.”
Salisbury extended a personal challenge.
In his words, “ … please don’t forget that the next … paper
… requires … some self-insight (definitely related to the intellectual
material, of course) added to the scholarly enterprise.”
This is where I began my own truly personal journey.
As a Psychology student, I had studied Freud, but I knew nothing
about Carl Gustav Jung. As a child, I had read the myths of Ancient Greece and
Rome. I loved the old fairy
tales. They were part of me.
The readings for the second paper included essays by Jung, Joseph
Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces, and Mahoney’s The
Meaning in Dreams and Dreaming. A new world was opening up.
I finally understood what the fairy tales represented to me.
And most important, I started to keep a dream diary.
The events of the world outside of me were beginning
to press in. Anti-war
protests were heating up across the United States.
On May 4, college students were shot at Kent State University. I
responded by saying that I was “radicalized”.
I staggered through the last few weeks of the semester. At some point, I must have realized I wasn’t going to
finish the second term paper anywhere near the due date.
I took an “Incomplete” in the class.
Hence, I did not graduate that June.
However, I carried on with the wedding plans.
And I continued to read. On the honeymoon. During
fishing trips. On hiking
trails. In our first apartment. And our second apartment. And the third.
And the fourth. I carried packs of 3 x 5 cards in my purse.
My husband threatened to destroy my notes.
(I wasn’t a Feminist, yet, but the word “pig” was about to
enter my vocabulary.) Around
the time of the first wedding anniversary, I began to dream dreams that
were no longer fairy tales. They
were filled with a particular kind of psychic horror.
It was time to grow up and face reality.
I was no longer a pampered little girl – I was a woman living
with an abusive man. It was
time to get up and go. I had
to prioritize things. I had
to finish the term paper and really graduate from college.
I met with Dr. Salisbury in his office at the
San Jose State campus. (I
remember how his presence filled the room.)
I described dreams from my journal.
Something was going on in the dreams, but I just wasn’t getting
the “picture”. Dr.
Salisbury was brutally honest. He explained, in Jungian terms, I had
refused to “Cross the Threshold” – to move forward into adulthood.
He even roared, “Look at the way you’re dressed. You look like
a little girl.” (No one had
ever spoken to me like that!) I
went home and borrowed an ancient manual typewriter, and then I worked on
my term paper for a month of nights.
(In addition to a daytime job.)
In October 1971, I handed in the finished term paper,
along with a stamped self-addressed postcard for the final grade.
By Christmas, I had already left the marriage.
A few weeks into 1972, I received the postcard.
In my handwriting, it read:
Completion of requirements for Soc. 171, Spring ’70
Paper II _____
Course _____ Grade
Dr. Salisbury entered the details “A” … “A” … “ 1/31/72”
And his personal note:
“Please contact me.
I am thinking of handing out one edited copy of each paper
as an example. This could be used for Jung. I need your permission &
editing. Call xxx-xxxx.”
I think I telephoned Dr. Salisbury.
I don’t remember seeing him again.
I finally received my degree, from California State University at
San Jose. From time to time,
I wondered how he used the term papers in his classes.
Politics aside – if that’s possible – as I am once more a
conservative - I still stand by the term papers I wrote then.
My life has been richer – and happier – for
having taken the Hero’s Journey. I
didn’t “rush” back into marriage.
In the late 1970’s, while living in San Diego, I was fortunate to
meet a “guru” of Jungian Analysis, Robert A. Johnson – author of HE:
Understanding Masculine Psychology (1974) and SHE: Understanding
Feminine Psychology (1976). He
was already quite “ancient” (to me) and ailing, at the time I met him.
I also met John A. Sanford – author of Dreams:
God’s Forgotten Language.
The years since have been filled with 25-plus years
of marriage, more college (a B.S. degree), raising two kids, and holding
down a job. But I knew all along, that wasn’t all there was to me.
About ten years ago, I picked up a copy of Women Who Run with
the Wolves: Myths & Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype by
Clarissa Pinkola Estes. I
laughed and I cried while I read the book; as if I were visiting old
friends I hadn’t seen for a long time.
And this brings me to the present. My son writes screenplays for movies. He has now discovered Jung and Joseph Campbell.
I was sharing my books and audiotapes with him, when I began to
wonder about my old teacher.
Thank Goodness for the Internet. That’s how I found all the autobiographical information
about Winfield W. Salisbury, the father of my professor.
I was saddened when I found out that my teacher is
Carol D. Smith