Dr. Edwin R Snyder, President, San Jose State College, 1923 – 1925

Dr ER Snyder 1924

Dr. Edwin R Snyder, 1924

I was impressed by the photograph of Dr. Edwin Reagan Snyder, president of the college, in the 1924 Yearbook “La Torre.”  So I researched his life and created a Find-A-Grave memorial to him at this link.

Ancestry.com referred me to a member’s family tree, which listed Dr. Snyder as a relative.  I offered to share my photos and other information with the family, and they accepted.  They had not seen any photos of their relative, and were grateful to received one.  I also sent them pictures of Dr. Snyder’s wife Sarah, and his son Llewellyn.

It is gratifying to share ancestral information with others.



Another Photo of Kathryn Sevy; Online Resources for San Jose State University

Kathryn Sevy 1925 La Torre

Kathryn Sevy, 1925

In my post for August 13, 2018, I wrote about Kathryn Sevy, a San Jose State student in 1924.  I had found her La Torre yearbook in an antique shop, and felt intrigued enough to research her life.  Scroll down to August 13 to read all about it.

Today I found a site that stores all editions of La Torre, from 1910 to 1965.  You can scroll though each yearbook, or even download the entire yearbook as a pdf file for later browsing and research.  I downloaded both 1924 and 1925, and learned that Kathryn Sevy graduated in 1925.  There is a picture of her, which I copied and cropped.  It is above.

The site where you can view and download the La Torre yearbooks is at this link.  It is the Digital Collections of King Libraries, Special Collections.

Henry Meade Bland, San Jose Scholar and Poet Laureate of California


Henry Meade Bland 1924

Dr. Henry Meade Bland

Dr. Henry Meade Bland was a celebrated poet in San Jose, California.  He had a PhD and taught English at San Jose State College from 1899 to 1931.  I thought about dedicating a Find-A-Grave memorial to him, but there is already so much information about him on the web that the memorial would be redundant.  One of the best articles about his life and accomplishments was written by Professor Annette Nellen at the San Jose State webite.  Check it out.

When the famous Tower was dedicated at San Jose State, Dr. Bland wrote a poem to mark the occasion.  It was called “The College Tower Speaks”:
The Tower SpeaksSome years ago I was walking the grounds of San Jose State (my alma mater, Class of 1972), when I noticed that Dr. Bland’s plaque had been overgrown with ivy and could hardly be read.  I notified the Administration and they agreed to cut back the ivy.

Dr. Bland was well-known for wearing his strange cap, but writing poetry was his greatest love and activity.  In 1929, he was voted by the State Legislature to become California’s second Poet Laureate.   He died on April 30, 1931, at the age of 68.

The photo below is of Dr. Bland teaching a class on the San Jose State quadrangle in 1929.  Notice the lovely archway behind the students, adorned with the inlaid tile design so closely associated with San Jose State.  These archways, which connected all buildings on campus, were torn down in the fall of 1964, just as I was beginning my junior year there.  They were demolished because the forces-that-be feared they were not earthquake proof.  Plans were made to tear down the famous tower as well, but a hue and cry from the community prevented it.  The Tower still stands today.
Bland on Campus

Dr. Bland wrote a short poem on souls and their journey though life:

For souls immortal always were,
And only briefly rest or stir
In human clay-on earth, a day-
And then are on their wonder-way.

Men of history like Dr. Bland make me regret that I could not know them personally, but can only read about them so many years after their deaths.  How true is his poem above — human souls are only briefly clay — on earth, a day, and then we are gone.

Tracking Down the Past: Finding Facts About Persons Long Dead

Some years back, while browsing in an antique store,  I found a copy of the San Jose State College yearbook for 1924.  Only then the college was called San Jose Teachers College.  I graduated from San Jose State in 1972, so the connection was meaningful to me, though I didn’t know its original owner, one Kathryn Sevy.

LaTorre CropThe yearbook was called “La Torre,” (“The Tower”) after an iconic structure on campus that served as an administration building.  The owner of the yearbook signed her name inside the front cover:Sevy Signature

Kathryn Sevy was her name.  I looked through the yearbook.  It was full of articles, poems, pictures and autographs.  I found Kathryn Sevy’s photo and scanned it.

Kathryn Sevy Pic 1924

Kathryn Sevy, 1924

Kathryn was a pretty young woman, as you can see.  I decided to colorize her picture with Photoshop, to get a sense of how she may have looked in life:  see pic below.

Finally, what could I learn about this woman on the internet?  I thought it would be an interesting exercise to see what I could find.  At Ancestry.com, I discovered that she was born in Feb 9, 1905 in West Virginia and died in Campbell, California on November 29, 1973.  She married Elliott Francis Marrs in 1925 when she was 20 years old.  They had one child, a daughter, Marilyn E. Marrs, born December 9, 1936 and who died March 19, 2003.  Marilyn graduated from Carmel High School in Carmel, California in 1953.  She later married one John Gordon Nystrom (8/3/1935 – 6/9/1989).  Alas, they had no children.

Kathryn Sevy Pic2 1924

Kathryn Sevy, 1924, Colorized

Kathryn’s final resting place is in Oak Hill Memorial Park in San Jose, California.  There is a find-a-grave memorial to Kathryn at this link.  I added my scanned photo of her to the memorial, and contacted the site manager to let them know they have the date of birth wrong..  I also contacted relatives on Ancestry.com to inform them of my findings and offered to share with them.

The photo just below is Kathryn Sevy’s daughter, Marilyn E Marrs, from a picture from her 1952 Carmel High School yearbook.  The picture just below that one is of Marilyn on her wedding day on Feb 28, 1958, with her husband Jack Gordon Nystrom (8/3/1935 – 6/9/1989).  Alas, they had no children.  Update:  I have learned that Marilyn’s last place of residence was Hollister, California, where I live!  What a coincidence — we lived in the same town for three years.  I might have seen her at the grocery store.

Marilyn E Marrs

Marilyn E Marrs, 1952

Well that settles it:  if you know where to look, you can often find a lot of details about someone long dead.  So my chance encounter with Kathryn Sevy’s 1924 yearbook led me to this journey of discovery.  I now know a little better my fellow alumnus of San Jose State, though I graduated 48 years after she did.

My wife and I purchased plots at Oak Hill Cemetery, so eventually Kathryn and I will be neighbors.



Marilyn E Marrs Nystrom Wedding

Marilyn Ellene Marrs & Jack Gordon Nystrom on Their Wedding Day, Feb 28, 1958

The Tower at San Jose State still stands and looks much like it did in 1924, though the ivy is a bit thicker today than it was then.  The picture just below is of the Tower in 1924, and below that the Tower as it looks today.  The Tower is well over 100 years old.  Pics below:  Black & White 1924, Color Photo 2018.

SJS Tower 1924SJS Tower Hall Today Cropped

Can Psychic Investigators Find Mollie Tibbetts?

I have been concerned with the recent disappearance of college student Mollie Tibbetts, age 20, in Brooklyn, Iowa.  She disappeared on July 18, apparently while on an evening run for exercise.

So far, the authorities have been unable to find any strong clues as to what happened to Mollie.  It’s as if she fell through a hole in reality into another dimension.  In all probability, she was abducted by person or persons unknown.  Young women are abducted often it seems, then raped and murdered.  This seems to happen to women joggers more often than not, when some evil man hides in ambush and nabs his victim when no one else is around to see the crime.

I suspect the perpetrator was a man, perhaps someone she knew.  However, it is all conjecture at this point.

I have heard of psychic investigators that the police sometime call upon, when stymied on cases like this.  Sometimes those investigators turn up important clues that crack the case.  The possibility of psychic phenomena is related to the theory of a universal mind which is a kind of cosmic repository  of the thoughts and memories of all human beings, living or dead.  (This mind is sometimes called “the Akashic Record.”) The theory is that psychics can somehow access this cosmic database and learn things not available through the usual methods.  How much of this is true is anyone’s guess, but I certainly hope it’s true.

In any case, if there are any skilled and effective psychics out there, please see what clues and facts you can turn up.  Help find Mollie Tibbetts, and bring her abductor to justice.

Rod McKuen’s Poetry

Recently I sent away for a copy of Rod McKuen’s 1969 book of poetry, “In Someone’s Shadow.”  I had purchased a copy when it first came out, and I always loved the title even more than the contents.  “In someone’s shadow” implies a connection and a need for another person, a wife or other mate.

I have reread several of the poems, and some of them are just plain awful.  A few, though, are pretty good.  I am currently making notes on which are good and not so good.  I don’t know why I bother on a book so long out of print, by an author who passed away in 2015.

The dust cover lauds McKuen in this way:

Rod McKuen has become not only the most influential and best-selling poet of our lifetime, but quite possibly the best-selling poet of all time.

Well it was the sixties.  They smoked funny stuff back then.

Could I write non-rhyming poetry like Rod McKuen?  Here’s an attempt:

Dogs on the Floor

My two dogs sleep on the floor beside my desk.

They want to be near me, all day and all the time.

Warm and fuzzy, they salute me with wagging tails

And kiss me with warm, wet tongues.

They belong to me, but the truth is

I also belong to them.

A purer love does not exist.

Nah, probably too good to be a Rod McKuen poem.


The Big Picture Eludes Us

Recently I got iUniversento an argument with a militant atheist on Twitter, who insisted that any belief in a deity was obviously and irrefutably stupid and asinine.  He wouldn’t even admit to the possibility of a higher power underlying all creation.

Militant atheists, like him, seem to believe that man’s five senses and intellect are capable of observing, sensing and detecting all of reality that exists.  If we can’t see it, touch it, smell it, taste it or hear it, it doesn’t exist.  Those who believe otherwise are simply spinning fairy tales because, as Stephen Hawking put it, they “are afraid of the dark.”

However, I believe that man’s perception is incapable and inadequate to sense all that is behind the cosmos, or determine its cause, its existence or its purpose, if there is one.  Man is like a bacterium (one with a brain and good eyesight) living on the surface of a postage stamp.  He can detect some of the physical features of his environment — ink, for instance.  However, he cannot see the whole picture, or determine that the postage stamp has a picture of George Washington on it.  He is physically incapable of rising to such a height to view the big picture.  His view is limited to the tiny section that he inhabits.

Another analogy I like to use is that of the boll weevil.  Boll weevils are incapable of understanding higher math.  No boll weevil has ever worked a calculus problem.  They just don’t have the mental capacity.  In like manner, man does not have the intelligence or the sensory perception to fully understand the big picture:  why is there a universe, who or what created it, what’s its purpose, and how do human beings fit into the scheme of things?  Logic doesn’t work here, as it is a construct of human experience.  Logically, there should be no universe, no life, nothing at all, because logically we know that something cannot come from nothing.

Yet here we are.