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Michael Rustad's Memories


Humboldt Memories in Naples, Italy


From 1975 to 1978, I served as a full-time professor ofsociology at the University of Maryland's European Division. I taught ata succession of Army, Air Force, and Naval Bases throughout Europe. I didstints in various locations throughout Germany, Italy, Spain and Turkey.

In the Summer of 1977, I was stationed at the Naval Basein Naples. We had bachelor's officers quarters and full privileges to usethe base facilities. My rank was the civilian equivalent to a major in theU.S. Army.

I taught a course entitled Family Sociology in Naples inthe Summer of 1977. I lived on the Bay of Naples and for a time on the Isleof Capri. I have always used a number of examples from my childhood growingup in the Red River Valley in my sociology classes and now in my law classes.

I often refer to skiing off our manure pile as it was thehighest hill around. I tell my students that they should avoid spring skiingwhen manure mountain begins its annual meltdown. I frequently give examplesof notable families in Humboldt and St. Vincent to illustrate concepts suchas the extended family. I began telling my Naples class about growing upon a farm near Humboldt in the Northwest Kingdom of Minnesota. After theclass ended, one of my students introduced himself as Lt. Commander GeraldCook. Cook told me that he knew where Humboldt was and all about it. Heknew all of the family names: the Bockwitz, Diamonds, etc. In the late 1930s,his mother would bring him to stay with his grandmother in Humboldt. HisMother grew up in the Humboldt area and he had many fond memories of Humboldt.Gerry and I became good friends and traveled together throughout SouthernItaly and Sicily.

Gerry was a very resourceful person and once arranged forus to have a formal banquet served in the ruins of Pompeii. It was quitean elegant event with servers in tuxedos having a luxurious meal with wineand apertivs served in high fashion. There was even a roving musician. Gerrymet an American singing with an Italian opera company and I was honoredto serve in their wedding party which was held at a villa in Anacapri whichis a spectacular island. The Villa was originally built by Queen Victoriaof Sweden for her Italian lover. Gerry arranged for me to stay at the Villafor several weeks. It was a magical time made possible by the strength ofthe Humboldt network.

strength ofthe Humboldt network.