We didn’t become friends there but neither did we become enemies, which we might have for a reason I now relate. To fulfill our course requirements Bob had to defend a paper he had written, which another fellow and I read, discussed and decided was a poor piece of work which we should attack in a seminar attended by about 15 or 16 other students…I think it was about Swedish population statistics, which are famous for being excellent…kept by the priest, the most educated person in the Parish…I led off by stating that the paper was a pedestrian, falsely scholarly work which had nothing to do with the real world….because I had come from the real world where I had been a union organizer (Georgia cotton mills) and later worked with the UAW in Michigan and Ohio…and I was also personally upset having been accused of being a Communist because I had expressed myself too vigorously about anti-Negro….prejudice. Don [Blake] the other fellow…followed my condemnation…by pointing out specific errors, wrong generalizations, etc. in Bob’s paper. The seminar participants moved uneasily in their chairs, in fearful expectation that they too might face similar criticism…

As I remember it, Bob rose when Don finished and said, “I accept the criticism that has been made and I wish to withdraw this unworthy piece of work.” At this, the professor, a fine and brilliant man named Gunnar Heckscher…later head of the [Swedish] Conservative party, jumped up from his seat at the head of the large table around which we sat, hurried around to Bob, put his hand on him — a distinctly un-Swedish thing to do — and refused to accept Bob’s offer, explaining to the seminar that Bob had not had time to really complete his paper, being the first to defend his work…

I think at that moment the other seminar members hated Blake and me, and it showed in their lack of enthusiasm when I later presented my paper, which described an attempt to measure participation and loyalty of 100 union members of Metal One, the largest local union in Sweden. Read George Johnston Letters

George Johnston,
Bob Gaudino’s classmate at the University of Stockholm and life-long friend