A group of us had heard of a proposed Williams at Home II and wanted to participate. But by then Prof. Gaudino wasn’t strong enough to travel around the country so this group of people talked to Prof. Gaudino about doing a Winter Study and he agreed and he gave us the names of all the families in the U.S. that had taken in Williams students. So I wrote to every family because I figured, “Who would want me?” and they were all so happy about the course and the students that had come that they all said, “Yes,” including one Iowa family who had had a really hard time with their Williams student. Then I didn’t know what to do because I had 20, 30 families that wanted to have a Williams student.

I ended up going to Tennessee because the woman who wrote the letter said, ‘We will treat you as good as we know how,” and that really went to my heart. So I went to Tennessee and had a really interesting time. The mother who I thought was probably 65 because she looked it was 39 years old. She had gone to school ‘till the age of 13. Once you were past 13, if you wanted to go past 7th grade, you had to live in the town and her family couldn’t afford living in town. So she had married when she was 14, had four kids, went to bed at 8:30 at night, got up at 4:30 and made this huge breakfast for everybody and education was just the most meaningful thing for her. She wanted her kids to have it in this town, Byrdstown, Tenn. There weren’t a lot of new people, so when I walked through the town, people would say, “Are you the gal staying with Ada?” And they would tell her, “Why are you letting that person in your house, she could be a Communist?’ Ada would say, “What if she is? It’s good to meet other people.”

I was 19 and a lot of the men in town were excited that there was a young northerner. So they were just coming by the house and I was kind of fending them off. A chicken even died over this. This one poor fellow came pouring into the yard in his car so fast that he accidentally killed a chicken. He didn’t kill it all the way — the poor thing lived on for three days and everyday Ada would tell her son to kill the chicken and he’d say “I will if you let me use the rifle,” and she’d say, ‘No,’ so the poor chicken was just in the yard like choking. Finally one day the daughter Velma and I decided to kill the chicken so we got an ax and I hit the chicken in the neck and the poor thing, it just sort of bent the neck into the dirt so Velma stuck rocks under it and we just hacked that poor chicken’s head off and rolled it into the dirt and buried it. So that was kind of intense.

I had just signed a petition at Williams to impeach President Nixon for Vietnam and the other things and the father in the family took me to a Republican meeting and they passed around a petition in support of President Nixon so it came to me and every eye in the room was on me and I was going through all this inner turmoil about this whole search for truth. I just couldn’t do it but I would lose all these friendships I had just made so I held onto it and held onto it and then I passed it on. And three guys turned around and looked at me and they said. “We know about you now,” and I’m like, they’re going to think I’m a radical. And they said, ‘You’re a Democrat!” and I thought, “Oh good, ‘cause Ada’s a Democrat too.”

So when I went to Tennessee and I came back and went right to his house and I just talked my head off to him about all the things that had happened and all the things I had learned. Then it came time to write the paper and I couldn’t articulate how I felt—I felt like a spy. These people became like my family, it was really hard to try to write about them. I felt like I was treating them like animals in a zoo. I felt like I was betraying them but I couldn’t articulate that. So I didn’t turn in the paper in January or February or March or April and it was due in January. And every week after the students had left his house, we were still having the coffee and donuts, he would say, “Miss Gerulski, what is your problem with this paper?” and I would give some weak explanation. Finally in May I just sat down and I wrote and I wrote and I wrote and turned it in. He must have liked the paper. I got a really good grade. But I n ever got the paper back. He kept it.