Tag Archives: Heidi Duncan

Virginia’s Senior Year Wasn’t a Great Year

[Virginia]: I had my eighth grade year and then through high school, but of course, I got accustomed to the kids. Now I would say I am closer to those kids than I am to the Peru kids because it was in the high school years. So graduated in ’81. I went. . . .

kathy-gail-virginia-will-lee-doug-ca-1981

Kathy, Gail, Virginia Will, Lee, Doug; Texas, ca. 1981

Oh, and then my senior year was the year that Chet Bitterman, one of the missionaries, got kidnapped. They were after the director, who was my—Dad [Will Kindberg] was the director. During that time that Chet had been kidnapped and before he was killed, my mom and dad were in hiding. They had to keep moving and I was left by myself out at the base with one of the single ladies. But I didn’t know where my parents were and that was a very, very traumatic time for me.

[Heidi]: What? Really?

[Stephanie?]: Really?

[Virginia]: Yeah.

[Dawn]: So wait a minute. [Can’t hear], why didn’t they take you?

[Eric]: [Can’t hear] at all.

[Virginia]: Because they were after my dad, not me.

[Mary Lynn]: What do you mean, they were in hiding?

[Virginia]: They had to move from place to place to place so that the guerillas—so they were after the director and because they had to keep him hidden, so that they [M-19 guerillas] couldn’t find him. He was the goal. He was the target. They took Chet because Dad was not in Bogota. They were after Dad, so in order for him not to be, you know, them not come back and try to get Dad, Mom and Dad had to move.

[Gail]: But he was on the base the whole time?

[Virginia]: No.

[Gail]: Where was he?

[Virginia]: I think he was in Bogota.

[Lots of Voices]: He was one of the negotiators?

[Eric]: Right.

[Virginia]: He may have been, but he was not—nobody knew where. I mean, he was in an undisclosed location and he had to move around.

[Kathy]: They had to keep the base secure.

[Heidi]: So you knew that he was in hiding?

[Virginia]: Yes. Oh, yeah-yeah-yes. I didn’t know where he was, but I knew he was. . . .

[Heidi]: How long did that go on?

[Virginia]: It was only a few months. Oh, I cannot, I can’t remember.

[Kathy]: Well that whole ordeal, I think, was two months.

[Eric]: Chet Bitterman had been captured. He was held for a long time. It was probably a year.

[Virginia]: No. No, no, no. No, it wasn’t because it was during my high school months. And it was during that time that Dad and Mom had to move.

You guys [Steve’s family] were talking about soldiers. During my high school years, we always had soldiers around our house because when my dad was director. That was kind of weird because I had curtains that were almost like these curtains. You know, being a teenage girl, and these guys are right outside my window. You know, it was a shock, I mean, you know, when they’re not shot guns, but machine guns. So we had, we had a lot. And we had curfews during the whole time we were there. We had to be in by 10:00. There were shots, you know, occasionally we’d hear shots in the middle of the night and wonder what’s going on.

Anyway, so that was my senior year and so that wasn’t a great year.

story told by Virginia (Lee’s daughter) with interjections by Eric, Kathy and Gail (Lee’s kids), Mary Lynn (Eric’s wife0, and Heidi, Dawn and Stephanie (Steve’s kids) to the family reunion gathering on January 11, 2014; transcribed by Dawn Duncan Harrell (Steve’s daughter) 

Can you add to the story? Please do. Write in the box below. (You may need to click “Leave a Reply” above to make the box, name, and address fields appear.)

  • You mention your Dad/Will writing memoires. Did he publish those? Are those available? Is it possible to add them to this collection?
  • The Steve Duncan kids didn’t receive trauma counseling. Did Wycliffe/SIL provide any kind of trauma counseling for you or your folks? Was that a known necessity at that time?
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The Bogota Bomb

[Virginia]: I was the end of my seventh grade year, the end of your [Kathy’s] junior year, and Doug was in between. So that was real tough for us because having been born and raised in Peru to leave and go to a new country was really hard. They were like family to us because we didn’t know all our family, our biological family, you know, extended family. So that was very tough, was to be uprooted and move to another country.

[Heidi]: Can I just interrupt and ask, was that because you parents [can’t hear] in Peru and they tried to [can’t hear]?

[Virginia]: They were going to be shutting down, the government was. They had a—I don’t know; you could probably explain better—they had a lease with the government or something.

[Eric]: There was a lot of conflict at that time. People in the universities and so on were criticizing SIL as being—what were they saying, that we were mining uranium?

[Virginia]: Oh, gosh. Weird.

[Eric]: There was a lot of opposition by Catholics, who were against the Evangelical police, and people in the university, who were leftist leaning. At that point, the government started to close down our operations. Right around that time, then, they did a reversal, but Dad and Mom had already made plans to leave.

[Virginia]: They had already assigned them to Colombia.

[Heidi]: So were there a lot of kids you’d grown up with that were leaving, too?

[Kathy]: Some were, but we were. . . .

[Virginia]: Dad [Will Kindberg] had just finished the completion of the New Testament.

[Eric]: Right.

[Virginia]: And I think he’d done some of the Old Testament, at least portions of the Old Testament. It was pretty much done at that time, so I think that’s why they had already assigned him to move.

[Kathy]: And they needed new translation people or something in Colombia.

[Virginia]: Yeah, so then since he’d already been assigned, even though then the government decided that Wycliffe could stay, we just continued onto the plans over there.

[Kathy]: Dragging our heals in the grass.

[Virginia]: Yeah, it was really a hard time to move. We docked in Barranquilla or Cartagena, I don’t know? Do you remember?

[Kathy]: We went to Cartagena.

[Virginia]: Was it Cartagena? And then we, I guess, flew to Bogota. And there had been a lot of guerrilla activity against Americans or foreigners in Bogota. So there had been bombs that had been placed in different foreign places. I don’t know if it was businesses or just residences.

[Kathy]: It was like bank and university and places that foreigners went to.

[Heidi]: Frequented.

[Virginia]: Anyway, my dad had been talking about this, these occurrences, with one of the other missionaries who had picked us up at the docks.

[Kathy]: No, it was the airport.

[Virginia]: The airport. The airport. Anyway, when we get to—we had like a group-house in the capital because when would come from where we were out in the middle of nowhere, they would fly to Bogota. There was, like, a group-house where we would stay. And we got there and my dad had gotten out first, or one of the first people to get out of the car. There was a box sitting there by the door.

[Eric]: Cardboard box.

[Virginia]: Cardboard. I don’t . . . oh, I was talking to somebody. I wasn’t sure.

[Kathy]: It was a little—it looked like a transistor radio. It was only very, you know, it was just a little package with a little thing sticking out of it that clued him when it started to spark, he realized it was a bomb.

[Virginia]: So. . . .

[Heidi]: Did you guys drive off or what did you do?

[Kathy]: No. We didn’t. It was like ten seconds about.

[Virginia]: Well, Dad just jokingly said—he picks it up and says, “What is this, a bomb?” And then it started to spark, so he put it back down.

I was in the back of a VW Bug, in the little well, in the very back because I was the smallest. I saw it and somehow I got out in time. It was only a matter of seconds that it went off.

[Kathy]: It still . . . the man who was in it just started yelling, “It’s a bomb! It’s a bomb! Run!”

[Virginia]: So Kathy, I think you were with me. We ran across the street, which was a narrow street. Doug ran down the street. It knocked him over. It caused all the glass from all the buildings for blocks to shatter. And it fell on our heads and I had glass in my head for a long time. I remember feeling my head.

[Eric]: You actually got behind the car across the street. And mom was behind the car and got knocked down, too, I think.

[Kathy]: She was in the middle of the street and it knocked her over.

[Eric]: And the shrapnel, go ahead, you finish the shrapnel.

[Virginia]: The shrapnel—there was a kick-plate at the bottom of the door, which was metal, and pieces of that metal went into the group-house. And there was, like, a bodega, where they, people kept their winter coats and stuff, and it went through the door. One piece even went, went through the door, went through the wall of that bodega, went through clothing, and stuck into a 2×4. I mean, so the glass was pretty, pretty, um. . . .

[Kathy]: It was meant to kill anybody in that house and it would have if anybody was in the lower level, but it was midnight and nobody was down in that lower level.

[Virginia]: And there was one lady who had just had a caesarian section or a DNC of something. She’d just had surgery. Just at the right time, she was in her bed, she rolled over and the glass fell. That was Lush.

[Kathy]: Oh, Edna Lush.

[Virginia]: Edna Lush. Anyway. . . .

[Marcia]: And your parents never wrote anything about this, did they?

[Kathy]: Oh, yeah, Dad.

[Marcia]: I don’t ever remember hearing this story.

[Virginia]: Oh, yeah.

[Kathy]: The story gets better and better every time.

[Steve]: I understood the tone of it.

[Mary Lynn]: I’ve heard it differently, too, multiple times.

[Virginia]: So that was my introduction to Colombia, was that. It affected me for a long time. I couldn’t hear, I couldn’t be around fireworks for many years. My husband will attest, I had nightmares many years after we were married, which would have been—I was twelve and ten, probably twenty years later, I was still having nightmares, so it affected me in a really big way. My question was—and my dad wrote, he did some memoires—and my big questions was, “You know, if they hate us so much, why are we here?” You know, not understanding, you know. Anyway, I was only twelve, so I didn’t understand much.

[Kathy]: It was scary after that because, too, because they kept threatening, and we had to stay in Bogota to do paper work. Remember that?

[Virginia]: No, I don’t remember that.

[Kathy]: They kept having other threats and then they had suspicious people driving by in cars.

[Virginia]: Oh, I do remember. That’s right. Yeah. Yeah. So that was kind of scary.

NB: A State Department document on WikiLeaks dates this bomb to the week prior to the report of Friday, August 6, 1976. As to the context for this and other bombings in Bogota that week, it reads:  

MORE TERRORIST BOMBS EXPLODED IN BOGOTA WITH U.S. PRIVATE FACILITIES AMONG THE TARGETS. FOLLOWING THE FAILURE OF THE NATIONAL SALARY COUNCIL TO AGREE TO NEW MINIMUM WAGES THE GOVERNMENT UNILATERALLY MOVED TO IMPOSE HIGHER LEVELS. THE LATEST PRICE INDEX INCREASE INDICATES THAT THE GOC’S INFLATION TARGET OF 15 PERCENT FOR 1976 IS NOW AN IMPOSSIBLITY. THE POLITICAL SEASON HAS BEGUN WITH FORMER FINANCE MINISTER AGUDELO ADDED TO THE LIST OF POSSIBLE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES. PRESIDENT LOPEZ TOOK ADVANTAGE OF A JOURNALISM AWARDS CEREMONY TO DEFEND THE NEW PRESS LAW. MAJOR GENERAL VALDERRAMA TOOK OVER AS DIRECTOR OF THE NATIONAL POLICE.

story told by Virginia and Kathy (Lee’s daughters) with interjections by Eric (Lee’s son), Marcia (Steve’s wife), Heidi (Steve’s daughter) and Steve to the family reunion gathering on January 11, 2014; transcribed by Dawn Duncan Harrell (Steve’s daughter)

Can you add to the story? Please do. Write in the box below. (You may need to click “Leave a Reply” above to make the box, name, and address fields appear.)

  • Virginia wins the last brownie. But Virginia and Kathy, can I ask for a few more details. Were the threats specific? Did they just want Americans to leave? Were they trying to scare the US or the Colombian government into giving them something? Was it mere terrorism? Did you go to the hospital that night? Did the mission provide counseling then or later? What kind of comfort did your parents take/offer you? Did they seem scared? Did they consider leaving?
  • You talked about lasting nightmares and your visceral reaction to fireworks. (I don’t do well with fireworks, either.) Looking back, are there other things—positive or negative—that you take away from these threatening and dangerous situations?
  • You spoke of not understanding because you were twelve. What do you think you would have understood if you were older?
  • Marcia didn’t remember hearing this story in 1976, but others do. What did you think, Gail and Bruce and Eric? Steve?

They’re Twins, They’re Girls, They’re Identical

We came back and we lived in Waltham [Mass.] for a year. Steve a year of internship at what was then Waltham Hospital [now Boston Children’s at Waltham]. Then he did residency at St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center in Brighton, where he had done that externship.

It was during that time that I got pregnant again, and so we were pretty sure that—we found out we were going to have twins. That was kind of unexpected. It did come from my grandmother; [she] always used to tell me that she had a miscarriage that would have been twins if she had carried them to term. My aunt always wanted to have twins and never had them, but my cousin did have twins. She had fraternal twins and our twins are identical. They say that that isn’t so much a part of your heritage as fraternal twins are. At any rate, we followed the twin tradition.

My mother thought we should have a boy in the mix, so when Steve announced—and we thought we would, just because that was most—statistically that was most common. Then we had two girls [Kimberly and Stephanie]. He called up my mother and said, “Guess what? We have two girls!” And she said, “Oh, no!”

[Dawn]: Did she?

[Heidi]: Yeah.

[Dawn]: I love it because she came outside and she said, “Your mom had two girls.” And I said, “Oh, no! I wanted a brother.” And she scolded me!

[Stephanie?]: She had done it herself.

Anyway, so then we moved. When Dawn and Heidi. . . .

[Victoria]: How many years between you [Dawn and the twins]?

[Dawn]: Six.

Dawn is six years older than the twins and Heidi is two years older than the twins. The twins were 14 months and Dawn was in second grade—is that right?—when we moved out to South Dakota?

Steve Duncan Girls, 1982

Heidi, Dawn, Kimberly, Stephanie, Christmastime, 1982

[Dawn]: Yup.

Heidi was. . . .

[Heidi]: Toddling.

Not in school yet. And we lived in South Dakota for five years [1977–1982] and then we came back to the East Coast, raised our support and went to Angola. Dawn was in seventh grade and Heidi was in third grade and the twins were in first grade when we went to Angola [1983].

Then gradually they all—I homeschooled them in Angola. Dawn left in tenth grade to go to Ben Lippen School and Heidi wanted to go sooner because she didn’t want to do all the work that Dawn was doing in school.

[Heidi]: She had to do homeschool in ninth grade and it was just like uuuggghhh.

[Stephanie]: That was back when homeschooling was in its infancy and you had no options except the University of Nebraska.

We had University of Nebraska, a high school course from the University of Nebraska.

[Stephanie]: GED, basically a GED course.

Heidi went off when she was in ninth grade to Ben Lippen. Then we came home on furlough and lived in Sumter, South Carolina, for four months in a colleague’s house when the twins entered school. They weren’t too keen on being at Ben Lippen, but we said, “Try it.”

[Kimberly?]: [can’t hear] We were like kicking and screaming.

We said, “Try it.” We were on furlough. We stayed there until Christmastime and then they came home with us for Christmas break. Then they went back and stayed.

story told by Marcia (Steve’s wife) to the family reunion gathering on January 10, 2014 with interjections from Kimberly, Dawn, Heidi, and Stephanie (Steve’s daughters) and Victoria TJ Ramey’s wife; transcribed by Dawn Duncan Harrell (Steve’s daughter)

Can you add to the story? Please do. Write in the box below. (You may need to click “Leave a Reply” above to make the box, name, and address fields appear.)

  • Which grandmother was it who had the miscarriage?
  • I’m thinking Heidi went to Ben Lippen in 1988 and Kim and Steph went in 1990. Is that right?

Steve Falters on Dermatology, Kids Contract Chicken Pox

Steve Wearing Laurel Wreath at Medical School Graduation, 1974, courtesy of Marcia Duncan

Steve Wearing Laurel Wreath at Medical School Graduation, 1974, Harley Smith and Marcia Duncan also pictured, courtesy of Marcia Duncan

All his exams were oral and his graduation was also a combination of a—he had to represent his dissertation to a panel of medical doctors. And you could invite all your friends to come. Uncle Harley came over from France for his graduation.

So he sits at a table with this horseshoe of professors and he has to answer questions on his dissertation. Then they pronounced him with his medical degree. Then friends of ours brought a big laurel wreath, Italian friends, and put it around him. We probably have some pictures with us.

[Heidi]: Then they kicked him out of medical school.

Steve Being Booted Out of Medical School, 1974

Steve Being Booted Out of Medical School, 1974

Yes, that’s right. They had a tradition of all your friends line up in two rows and you run down between them and they kick you out of medical school.

Dawn, actually, was about three then, three and a half, and Heidi had just been born. Heidi was supposed to be born after he finished his final exams, but Heidi came a few days early. Heidi was born at something like, what, two o’clock in the morning? Then he had, that morning, he had—was it a pharmacology exam?

[Steve]: Dermatology.

A dermatology exam. So he walks into his examination and the professor asked him, “What happened to you?” because he’d been up most of the night. He said, “I just had a baby!”

Heidi was—basically we had to wait a month before we could fly home, in terms of her age.

We went home via France to visit Harley and Betty one more time.

[Dawn]: We got to stay there extra long.

We got to stay there extra long because one morning we woke up and Dawn had a pock on her face. Lo and behold, she had broken out with chicken pox, so we had to wait until she was no longer contagious before we could get on the flight.

[Stephanie]: Way to go, Dawn.

[TJ]: You all know that you’re eligible for shingles later on?

[Dawn]: I know it. My mother-in-law. . . .

[Stephanie]: Looking forward to it.

[TJ]: Patti had shingles and before it she had chicken pox. When she did, they kept me away from them. I didn’t have chicken pox.

[Victoria]: Maybe you did.

[Virginia?]: I never have had any.

Heidi, at a month old, eventually had one little pock on her face, so I don’t know if that means she had chicken pox or not. Kimberly and Stephanie got it in [Ben Lippen] high school.

[Stephanie]: Our junior year. We both came down with the chicken pox.

[Virginia?]: Ohhhhh. At the same time, huh?

[Stephanie]: Well, we had house-parents and their kids had chicken pox. I babysat for them. I think that’s how it all went down. It’s a little confusing because there were a bunch of people who came down at the same time with it. I was babysitting for them. Also a friend of mine. It was going around the school. It was the only thing I ever came down with in high school. I never even had a cold all through the years we were there. But it came through this particular set of house parents and their children. A bunch of us got it at the same time, but it was right before our final exams our junior year. I just remember that because I was in agony trying to study and we got it bad.

story told by Marcia (Steve’s wife) to the family reunion gathering on January 10, 2014 with interjections from Steve, Dawn, Heidi, and Stephanie (Steve’s daughters), Virginia Gorman (Lee’s daughter), TJ Ramey (Kathryn’s son), and Victoria his wife; transcribed by Dawn Duncan Harrell (Steve’s daughter)

Can you add to the story? Please do. Write in the box below. (You may need to click “Leave a Reply” above to make the box, name, and address fields appear.)

  • Any other Smith and Steve Duncan family stories from the “extra long” stay in France?
  • Anyone else have chicken pox or other childhood/epidemic diseases stories?
  • Any other stories from the trip home?
  • Mom and Dad/Marcia and Steve, can you send digital copies of the laurel wreath and kicking out photos for this story? Thanks.

Marcia Did Not Teach Burlesque in Italy

Cristoforo Colombo took Marcia, Steve, and Dawn to Italy, 1970.

Cristoforo Colombo took Marcia, Steve, and Dawn to Italy, 1970.

We did go to Italy.

I didn’t learn Italian ahead of time.

In fact we went separately. Steve flew there. He flew ahead to find a place for us to live and some work for me to do because I was going to be “putting hubby through,” so to speak. I had a trunk full of our household goods and at that time it was cheaper to go across on an ocean liner and take your trunk than it was to fly. So he flew and I came later.

I learned a little Italian on the ship. I was on the Italian lines. I met up with him in Italy there and then I took some Italian lessons when I was there. Basically we learned Italian from just living in the culture.

I remember. . . .

[Heidi]: The ship came into Venice.

No.

[Steve]: No, that was the second ship.

No, that was the second time we went back. The first time it came into . . . um.

[Steve]: No, uh, the other side of the peninsula.

[Heidi]: Florence?

[Steve]: Florence, no, um.

[Heidi]: I mean, um, Genoa.

[Steve]: Genoa.

Genoa! We came into Genoa.

[Heidi]: And then you trained across.

[Steve]: Yeah.

[Heidi]: To Padova.

Yeah. We did a lot of train travel in Padova.

[Eric]: While he was in medical school, you were working?

So then he found me a job in a Berlitz school, teaching English. So I taught English in a Berlitz school.

[Bruce]: Burlesque?

[Steve]: Burlesque?

Burlesque?

[laughter]

[Heidi]: Mom did burlesque to bring in the money.

And I learned a lot of, you know, I learned a lot of Italian teaching English, just because of the way the Italians would speak English. It helped me to learn how things were said.

[Heidi]: Twenty-six years later, I moved to Italy and lived in Venice and taught English in a Berlitz school and learned some of my Italian.

[Virginia]: Are you serious? Oh, Heidi, that’s awesome.

So after three years in Italy, he took an externship at Saint Elizabeth’s Hospital in Brighton. Came back for a period of six months. I came ahead. I was six months pregnant with Dawn. I came ahead and Dawn was born in the States at that hospital, Saint Elizabeth’s. He was not—were you here for the birth? You were back by the birth time. OK.

Then we went back to Italy and the second time we went back together in a ship. That’s when we went to Venice. On our way there, we stopped in various ports. So we were in Malaga, Spain. We stopped and visited Pompeii and we were in Naples and visited Pompeii.

[Steve]: We stopped in Sicily.

We did. We stopped in Sicily. And then we went up the Adriatic and stopped in Greece.

[Steve]: In Greece. We went to Greece.

We stopped at Piraeus. And then we took a day trip to Athens. And then we went over to Venice.

That gave us a chance to see a lot of places in Europe and when Dawn was baby, we traveled—when we had vacation times, we had a little VW Bug and traveled to various places, to visit places in Italy.

[Heidi]: You went to see Aunt Betty and Uncle Harley.

And we went to Austria also because we had met a couple on a ship—he was Austrian and she was American. They invited us to go to Austria to visit them at Christmastime, so we did a few things like that.

[Kimberly?]: Aunt Betty and Uncle Harley.

[Steve]: That was up in Switzerland. We had gone also, among other things, we saw where The Sound of Music was designed in Salzburg.

[Victoria]: Yeah. In Austria.

They lived in Salzburg, so they took us around to all the sites in Salzburg.

We traveled to Switzerland several times and met up with Aunt Betty and Uncle Harley there and Sandy and Debby. They would get apartments for missionaries in various places in Switzerland where we would have vacation time. So we would drive through the fog out of Italy, because it was usually very foggy at Christmastime.

Then I can remember one time when we were driving up in the mountains in Switzerland. Steve was not feeling good. Did you ask me to drive? And I was like. . . .

[Dawn]: Dad was in the back seat.

Dad, he would look out the window and see that it was a drop-off like this and he just closed his eyes and hoped we didn’t drop off.

Anyway, so we had a lot of good memories from those years. We were there for six years. Came home in 1974.

story told by Marcia (Steve’s wife) to the family reunion gathering on January 10, 2014 with additions from Steve and Heidi (Steve’s daughter) and interjections from Virginia Gorman, Bruce Kindberg, and Eric Kindberg (Lee’s children), Dawn Harrell and Kimberly Duncan (Steve’s daughters), and Victoria (TJ Ramey, Kathryn’s son’s wife), transcribed by Dawn Duncan Harrell (Steve’s daughter)

Can you add to the story? Please do. Write in the box below. (You may need to click “Leave a Reply” above to make the box, name, and address fields appear.)

  • Any other Smith and Steve Duncan family stories from those Christmastimes spent together that you’d like to tell?
  • Would someone please tell the flaming fondue table story?
  • Can someone relay the peanut butter story? Didn’t Harley and Betty come to Italy for that story? What was the context?
  • How about going to France to help build the camp one summer story?
  • Sandy? Debby? What do you remember of those intersecting times?
  • Why would Betty have stayed behind in France at Steve’s graduation? Children? Other duties? Finances?
  • Any other stories from the ocean liners? How about the diapers-in-the-hold story from the second crossing?

Steve Wouldn’t Do a Thing, Would He?

Marcia MacGregor, Easter 1966, Engagement

Marcia MacGregor, Easter 1966, Engagement

For our home life, Christ was very much at the center. Between that and the [Newton] Presbyterian Church, which is very Evangelical in nature, I [Marcia, Steve’s wife] just considered that as such a basic foundation for me, for my own life, from the time that I can remember anything. I grew up there.

Uncle Bob was in seminary at Gordon Divinity School and was doing a practicum at the Newton Presbyterian Church. He was—at the time I was in junior high—he was our youth group . . . he wasn’t a youth pastor, but he was a youth. . . .

[Steve]: Director. Facilitator.

Youth facilitator.

I was in ninth grade [1955/6] on this one meeting evening. He invited a good friend of his at Gordon, Russ Reinhardt, who was blind, to come and give his testimony. It so happened that a man by the name of Steve Duncan, a freshman in college at the same time as Russ, was his roommate. He came along to provide Russ transportation and to help him. Marcia MacGregor was sitting in this room. In walks this college freshman with wavy brown hair, just a hunk of a guy, handsome as could be, and she thought she was born five years too late.

Fast forward eight years. Uncle Bob and I were at a Presbyterian youth camp during the summer, counseling together at that camp. He just casually said, “You know, we’d like to get you together with my brother.”

I knew that Bob had a lot of brothers. I was just trying to figure out: is this the same brother that I saw back eight years ago. I couldn’t quite figure it out.

Anyway, sure enough, we had a double date together. They showed up with Steve. There he was, this handsome man, but I have to say he didn’t know how to dress. Maybe he didn’t know how to dress. Maybe that wasn’t his fault totally because the money was not flowing. Evidently somebody had died and that person’s clothes got passed onto Steve. Anyway, I was impressed by everything else except the way he. . . .

[Stephanie?]: God was preparing him to be a missionary.

[Steve]: I’m still wearing the same clothes.

Now at the time, that year I had gone to the University of Massachusetts to do some graduate studies in German. I had studied German language as my major in college and I wanted to do graduate studies, so I was out there. I came home during Christmas break and that’s when we had this date, so I wasn’t used to living at home at all anymore. We went out and Bob and Polly—we went to see The Sound of Music all together—eventually Bob and Polly went home.

Steve took me home. We sat out, in front of my house at 46 Slade Street in Belmont for I don’t know how long, talking. I just knew that I had met the man I was going to marry. We just shared a lot of things, what our life was, what our hopes were for our lives. Both he and I felt that God was calling us to the mission field. We knew that. We shared those kinds of things. We talked about, just about everything. I mean, I was looking for a husband. He was looking for a wife. We were cutting to the chase.

Anyway, so then I don’t know what time it was in the morning at this point, but I walked into my house and there was my father. “Where, on earth, have you been?!” He had been calling Polly and Bob and worried sick.

[Steve]: Oh, boy!

[Virginia, laughing]: Did he call your cell phone?

No! There were no cell phones!

[Heidi]: Aunt Polly was like, “Oh, no, Steve wouldn’t do a thing?! Would he? Oh, they just met! It’s a blind date!”

We were outside. The car was parked right in front, on the curb, if he had looked out the window. But you know, I wasn’t used to having to think about oh, somebody’s inside waiting for me. I had lived away from home for so long. That just totally busted my bubble, you know, because I was walking on a cloud that night when I came home that night.

Anyway, Steve went to my dad and apologized. Right away, that went up, Steve went up in his mind. Then we were engaged, basically, on Easter Sunday, the following Easter Sunday. That was Christmas and we got. . . . Steve went to my dad and asked for my hand in marriage, so that really took him all the way.

My dad said to me, “You’ll go places with that guy.” That’s what he said. So we’ve been places.

story told by Marcia (Steve’s wife) to the family reunion gathering on January 10, 2014 with questions and comments from Eric Kindberg (Lee’s son), Virginia Gorman (Lee’s daughter), Steve, and Steve’s daughters Heidi and Stephanie; recorded and transcribed by Dawn Duncan Harrell (Steve’s daughter)

Can you add to the story? Please do. Write in the box below. (You may need to click “Leave a Reply” above to make the box, name, and address fields appear.)

  • We have Betty’s courtship and engagement story. Anybody want to relay what you recall of the others?
  • Mom/Marcia, on which campus of the University of Massachusetts did you do your German graduate studies? Were they completed? What year was that? What was the degree?

Put on a Little Accent, Ace Medical School

Steve and Marcia, Venice, ca. 1967 to 1969

Steve and Marcia, Venice, ca. 1967 to 1969

[Steve]: When I got out of the military, I finished up my degree at Boston University. Then I started to do some graduate work in psychology, also at Boston University. I then met Marcia on that blind date. You remember that story? Perhaps.

[Eric]: No, I don’t.

[Steve]: Well, Marcia.

[Marcia]: You want me to tell that story?

[Steve]: You want Marcia to tell that story? It’ll be her turn to tell the story.

[Multiple Voices]: Yeah! Tell it. Tell it.

[Steve]: She’ll probably tell the truth. Yup.

We dated for four months. I asked her . . . to marry her and then I went off to Peru. To escape.

[Virginia]: To get away from that.

[Eric]: You got cold feet.

[Steve]: I got cold feet, yeah. [Laughter.] In fact she got a little bit of cold feet while I was away in Peru.

[Heidi]: And we just found out Aunt Polly—the whole time—was like, “That was the worst mistake! He shouldn’t have done it!” And was praying fervently during the whole time he was in Peru.

[Virginia]: Is that right?!

[Stephanie?]: Praying about what?

[Heidi]: Aunt Polly was like, “Oh, yeah, when he left for Peru, I just thought ‘What is he doing?’ so I prayed and I prayed and I prayed because they should get married.” That’s what Aunt Polly said.

[Virginia?]: Oh, oh, oh, I thought she was praying against them.

[Heidi]: No. No. No. Because she just thought. . . .

[Virginia?]: I thought, “What’s she have against you that . . . ?”

[Marcia]: Bob and Aunt Polly always said they were Mr. and Mrs. Cupid because they got us together and so she was probably worried that it was going to fall apart.

[Virginia?]: They set up this blind date?

[Heidi]: Yes.

[Marcia]: Yes.

[Steve]: Oh, yeah.

[Marcia]: I’ll tell you the story when you pass it to me.

[Steve]: When it’s her turn.

So then when we did get married in December of 1966, we were married for—I don’t know—six months or seven months. And then I had applied for medical school here, but at the time there were 15, 14 applications to get into medical school for every person that got in. So it was very difficult to get into medical school. I went to try to get into Italy, of all places, a historically medical area and got in. So we went to Italy, Marcia and I. It was there that Dawn—no, Dawn was born back in the States and we came home.

[Mary Lynn]: How’d you learn enough Italian to do that?

[Steve, puts on Italian accent]: It’s a-just-a talkin’ about what-a you talkin’ about in English, but then you put on a little accent and you all set.

[Victoria]: He looks like Italian. He really looks like Italian.

[T. J.]: I’ve always been impressed that he was able to pull that off.

[Mary Lynn]: Can you both speak Italian?

[Stephanie]: Only when he’s trying to speak Portuguese.

[Steve]: Only when I’m trying to speak Portuguese, that’s right. We had to learn Portuguese, so it became very difficult to maintain the Italian. In fact, the Italian did come out when I was speaking in a group.

[Mary Lynn]: Did you go to language school before you went to medical school?

[Steve]: I learned a little bit of Italian before we left, before I left, and when I got there, before I started medical school—just a couple of months, I learned some more Italian.

[Mary Lynn?]: So you went to Italy with Dawn?

[Marcia]: No. Dawn wasn’t born. We had only been married for a few months when we went.

[Steve]: So it was three years [before Dawn was born].

[Marcia]: We were married December ’66 and went to Italy for September of the following year.

[Steve]: So we stayed in Italy and it was more than four years. It was six years total with internship there. Pardon?

[Heidi]: So they were there and then came back to the States to have Dawn and then went back to Angola. I mean Italy.

[T. J.]: All the classes were taught in Italian, right?

[Steve]: Italian. Actually, there was one of the first classes, the guy wanted to show how much he knew of English and he spoke to some of us in English, but the rest—no, it was the exam. He called the exam—I would give the exam, or take the exam in front of four or six professors and a class full of students behind me and, but one of the first ones was in English. He was trying to show off how much he knew of English, so that was a help.

[Virginia?]: Were there other students, then, that were American?

[Steve]: American, yeah. There were about 20.

[Marcia]: 30.

[Steve]: 20 or 30?

[Marcia]: Maybe 20. With the spouses there were 30.

[Steve]: In that area. And there were many in Italy, in Bologna, a place in central Italy. So Dawn was born back in the States—we went back—and Heidi was born in Italy. She says she was born in a boot, like ‘course the shape of Italy is a book, so that’s her little poem.

[Marcia]: I just wanted to add about the language. You were asking about the language. In addition to him taking those 6 weeks of language study before he left, he always said that the advantages were that they used American and British texts for medical school. So he just bought his texts in English. They had to buy them, the Italians bought the translated copies. Then everything is Latin-based. You know, the medical language is Latin-based, so that made it easier also. He used the medical terms that were Latin. And then the exams were all oral. There wasn’t that much written material, so and it’s easier to speak than to write it out if you’re living in the culture. As he said, there were several, you know, professors that wanted you to know that they could speak English; then they would let you do your exam in English. There were a few, you know, that were saying, “This is Italy, so you do it in Italian.” There were some advantages that we had that way.

story told by Steve, Marcia [Steve’s wife], and Heidi [Steve’s daughter] to the family reunion gathering on January 10, 2014; recorded and transcribed by Dawn [Steve’s daughter]

Can you add to the story? Please do. Write in the box below. (You may need to click “Leave a Reply” above to make the box, name, and address fields appear.)

  • Somebody tell the story of the letters going back and forth to Peru? Dad sending Grammy MacGregor a blank letter and all the missionaries tuning in to listen to Lee read Marcia’s letters to Dad, when he was out in the jungle.
  • Dad/Steve or Mum/Marcia, do you want to tell more stories from Italy? The hungry times when a bag of groceries were left? Sleeping under your coats? Teaching English? Balancing grocery bags on the bicycle? Going to the symphony for cheap and the audience yelling ‘piu’? Shopping at the PX? Traveling to the Swiss Alps? Harley and Betty and the peanut butter? Dawn’s diapers in the trunk at the border crossing? Going to your exam after Heidi was born?
  • Any other Italy, speaking Italian stories?
  • Anybody else have language learning difficulty or goof-up stories to share?