Herb Rowland Back to Classmembers Page

From 45th Reunion

Herb Rowland Memories:
Since I wrote about memories of Central earlier, I’ll confine myself to subsequent experiences here.  Following graduation, I went Arkansas Tech and LRU for a semester each, majoring in music.  I was still playing in musical groups at the time, with the Counts, mainly out at the Cimarron, and then with the Graduates. I started my sophomore year at LRU but ran out of money at mid-semester and then played music until my deferment from the Naval Reserve expired in August 1963.  I spent the next two years in the Navy as a radioman aboard the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk, making port in Hawaii, Japan, Okinawa and Hong Kong and stationed for long periods off the coast of Viet Nam.  If you had to be in the war zone in all that wasn’t a bad time, at least for sailors.  We lost several planes and pilots, but the ship itself was never fired on.  That began a month or so after we left the South China Sea, with the Maddox and Turner Joy, ships we had just operated with.
 During a period in dry-dock in Bremerton, Washington, I met my wife, Linda, and after my discharge we moved to Fayetteville, where I got my B.A. in English and German in 1968.  I’d forgotten a lot of the music theory I’d learned, felt I didn’t have enough talent to make it in music, popular or serious, anyway, and decided to return to literature, which was my first love.  At that point jobs at colleges were more plentiful in German than in English, so after a great year of study and travel in Germany and Europe I got graduate degrees in German at the University of Oregon.  By that time (1973), wouldn’t you know it, the bottom had fallen out of the job market in foreign languages, so I had to “settle” for a position at a high school in Reedsport, Oregon (and was lucky to get that).  But after two years that experience actually led to a job at Eastern Washington University, near Spokane, and eight years later, in 1983, I got my present position at Purdue University, in West Lafayette, Indiana.  It has allowed me to do what I like doing most, reading and writing about literature, most recently about American responses to German writing, and has enabled me to live in Germany for a total of two and a half years plus several conference trips.  I would have preferred to end my career in a department that plays a bigger role in the profession than my own, but the job market has remained weak, there are a lot of good people out there and I feel I’ve has a reasonably successful career anyway.  I’m now semi-retired, teaching one semester a year, which I’ll do until I’m sixty-six—a magic age for many of us.
     We love the Northwest but have also (slowly) grown to love the less spectacularly beautiful Indiana—there’s more corn here! —Despite the hot and humid summers (not so bad by Arkansas standards) and the cold winters (I’ve actually come to enjoy them).  Linda couldn’t handle the summers in Arkansas (most people in the northwest don’t have air-conditioning; they don’t need it).  As someone named “Rowland,” it’s not unfitting that I should wind up in Indiana anyway.  After all, my dad’s family lived in the state for two generations (at least it was the southern part), his grandfather going to Little Rock during the Civil War (on the “wrong” side, as you might guess!).  Last year we sold our Victorian home of over twenty years in town and moved into a big, more modern place on 6+ acres of landscaped lawn and wooded hills and ravines on the ridge above the Wabash River six miles outside of town.  “We” includes Linda and me, our daughter and her family, and, Linda’s mother (my son and his family live in Indianapolis).  It’s old-fashioned, extended family living, but we enjoy it—most of the time!
     I plan to continue my research in retirement, but I also intend to do other sorts of writing.  For example, I’m revising a number of songs I wrote in high school and thereafter, creating sheet music for them on my computer and trying to figure out how to record them using another computer program, Garage Band (I started learning to play the bass guitar a year or so ago; now for the drums).  Life could be a lot worse.

 - Herb Rowland