June 24, 2017
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Professor couldn’t get a visa

By: Irene Hilsendager
May 19, 2017

Continued from last week.

We couldn’t get a visa for the Soviet Union from this country because America did not recognize the country,” said the professor. Instead they had to travel to Germany where they obtained their Russian visas and were made to renounce their American citizenship.

“This was going to be a trial visit for dad, but they forced us to burn our bridges there and then…and this attitude of the Russians was one of the earliest symptoms of my father’s later disillusionment.”

“He was soon to learn that the revolutionary faith had not been kept and those who ran the country did not serve the best interests of either worker or peasant,” said the SSC professor, “It was a psychological crash for my father from which he did not recover until he died in 1944.

The family was homeless for a good while when they got into Russia, but as a result of the “first sit-down strike” mounted by Hilda Furman, who literally camped at the doors of the authorities, they were given a two room apartment, which was luxurious even by Russian standards.

“Never in the 10 years of living in Russia did we sit down to a meal to which some less fortunate people were not invited, even in the worst of times,” said Dr. Arnold.

At times they had 11 people living in the two rooms for periods as long as 13 months. Had it not been for Hilda Furman whose energy, humor and tolerance knew no bounds, the family would have fallen apart.

“As it was, we were a very close knit family, pulled together by our family’s feeling in the terrible period of Stalin’s purges, when no one knew what to expect from one day to the next,” said the professor.

In 1941 as friendly aliens, with the Germans, only kilometers from Moscow, Mrs. Furman and her three children were allowed to leave. Mr. Furman was forced to stay behind and died, a man burdened by the thought that he was the cause for their family’s 10 years of hardship.

Dr. Arnold had completed her elementary schooling in Baltimore and later New York. In Moscow she completed middle school No. 49 and then joined the Moscow State Pedagogical Institute of Foreign Languages, majoring in English and minoring  in Education.

During her undergraduate years Dr. Arnold taught English to adult groups and worked as a freelance translator from Russian into English for radio broadcasts.

After her repatriation, Dr. Arnold worked until 1947 at which time she resumed her education in San Francisco. She earned her master’s degree in Slavic languages and literature.

Following her marriage to Jack Arnold, she gave up her studies to take up the duties of a homemaker and mother. She had two children, a boy and a girl.

Her marriage gave her the opportunity to travel abroad with her architect husband and lived seven years in Europe. Based in England they all traveled extensively on vacations.

Dr. Arnold resumed her studies toward her doctoral dissertation and earned her Ph. D. in 1964 and resumed teaching in 1965 when her children were sufficiently advanced in their school years.

Dr. Arnold’s hobbies are reading and listening to good music. She loves Mozart and Dostoyevsky with a passion. Her favorite city is San Francisco. Red roses and strawberries and sour cream are her other loves, besides the house that “Jack built” in Tiburon facing the city lights.

“I believe that everyone should have an opportunity to go to college irrespective of social or financial position, but I don’t think everyone needs to go to college,” says Dr. Arnold.

Students are missing golden opportunities to get at the positions of power, because of their lack of training and dedication toward the day in day out work required to run a country, says the SSC professor.

The attitude of the young around the world has taken an unrealistic, self-delusionary stance, as if the cure-all is revolution. Some people like the SDS or the Weathermen would have you believe that the nation is ready to take to the barricades, smiled the lady professor.

“I don’t believe in change for change’s sake, but I would like to see standards in everything raised, with justice and truth a prime requisite,” she said.

“There is a tendency to blame the educational and other systems for the failures and inadequacies that a lot of students have nowadays,” said Dr. Arnold in conclusion,” “Students should direct their energies to improve rather than reject or tear down the present system.”

Irene Hilsendager’s column each week touches on moments in the history of Cotati, Rohnert Park and Penngrove.