a tribute from Jack Young

Having read the abundance of tributes, Herman, I should not be the least bit surprised that my own sentiments are not alone.  The expression “profound experience” has surfaced intermittently, and it is as apt a descriptor as any I can associate with you.

Some have suggested that the UCSC experience helped shape me, but it’s also important to acknowledge the most influential of professors who offered guidance — not necessarily constant attention, just sound guidance — into adulthood.  Herman, you provided the means for me to come into adulthood with a developing consciousness for human justice, which in turn helped to mold a moral imperative as a steady frame of reference for viewing the world.  For the ensuing growth, I offer my heartfelt gratitude.

It was June of the Summer of 1972 when I, along with a small group of other UCSC and Mills affiliated students, traveled from California via a southern route to Beaufort, South Carolina, where we would each strike out on our individual paths of studies and involvement.  For me, I made my way by boat to Daufuskie Island, my home for the next several months.  I always saw myself as differentiated from the norm of most UCSC students.  For one thing, I fully paid for my college education, and this was the first summer (at age 21 years) that I had not worked since I was barely 5 years old.  I thought I knew a lot, but on this island, I came away with an appreciation for people, language, traditions and practices in life that I had not previously known.  If I was there to be of “service” and provide “assistance” from a community studies perspective, I was also certain that I was getting back much in return.  I came to understand the subtleties between subsistence and survival; between wealth in character vs. abundance in things owned; and between value and meaning in differing contexts.  Four decades later, images remain intact.  There were the many chats into the night with Miss Frances Jones, with whom I stayed that summer; ditto with the walks/talks with island’s midwife, Miss Sarah Grant, who proudly proclaimed to me early on, “Mr. Jack, all these my chillin’ (children)”, meaning that she brought most all I saw into the world.  I remember the neighbors’ (Bertha Robinson and Thomas) cart, pulled by Bobby the ox; the laughter of the many children I worked with on a daily basis; and the playful jabs of the ‘Fuskie community’s adults who surely must have chuckled greatly at those of us from California.  I remember the sobering experience of experiencing the drowning death of an islander who had been out shrimping and crabbing in his small boat; followed by the deeply penetrating experience of helping to dig a grave for the first and only time in my life; only to be followed by the celebratory wake for this man of Daufuskie.  I would be lying if I said I had forgotten the mouth-watering variations of the baked deviled crab I sampled that summer. To be fair, I haven’t forgotten about the ticks either, however.  There are so many moments, with so many meanings derived, sometimes manifested with tears, and sometimes with sweat.  There is no doubt that Daufuskie represented a defining event in my life.

These are all stories now, but importantly they were also pieces of the profound experience that helped shape my character and compelled me to examine my personal and moral values.  How does one thank you, for providing the spark to ignite these opportunities leading to life-long learning?  One says, “Thank you, Herman, with all humbleness and great appreciation”.

Jack Young
Stevenson 1973
Daufuskie, Summer 1972
jack.g.young@gmail.com

Advertisements