Mark Harris and Sverre Arestad
How pleased I was to read of your offer to alumni to write about a remembered professor from earlier days at the UW. Like Ann Rule (from the early '50s), I, too, remember Mark Harris from a later date. How well I recall the 20 or so students sitting around a large table in Parrington Hall for novel writing ... only by the early '60s he was reading aloud the students' writing efforts. I remember his reading from my "novel" and his continual stopping to laugh. "This one reminds me of 'The Egg and I,' " he chuckled. I was pleased at his response for, indeed, I didn't mind comparison to Betty McDonald.
In addition to Mark Harris, I want to pay tribute to Dr. Sverre Arestad of the UW.'s Scandinavian Department. He taught Norwegian language and Scandinavian Literature... and what a dynamic professor he was! I well remember my first day in Norwegian 101 in September 1960. He took roll call by calling student names with a Norwegian pronunciation. My name was Mary Steen and although I had grown up around Norwegians, I had never heard the last name pronounced 'Stay-en."
"Mar-ri Stay-en," I heard Dr. Arestad say. "Mar-ri Stay-en." After the third or fourth time, I thought maybe he's saying Mary Steen, so I finally responded. I loved that class, took every Norwegian class I could for two years, and ended with a minor in Norwegian and a major in English (writing rather than lit.) How I wish I could have had Dr. Arestad before my junior year because he really encouraged me to go into teaching (and, as he put it, perhaps I could also teach some Norwegian in whatever school I was in). Thanks to Dr. Arestad, for the first time I truly became interested in teaching as a vocation. However, I was determined to graduate in four years ... so maybe, I said, I would return to obtain a teaching certificate.
Although I've worked for three school districts from writing and editing work in one district to theme reading for the past nine years in Kent School District, I have never gone back to school for my teaching certificate. I think often of Dr. Arestad and how I should have listened more carefully to him--in English.
Mary Steen Story, '62
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