Hal Dendurent Autobiography

Harold Oscar (Hal) Dendurent, born June 23, 1941

Twin to Howard Dendurent

I was born at a very young age, not as old as my twin brother Howard, who jumped out of our mother's womb before me. The attending doctor said we were identical, but I don't think so. Howard may be the smart one, as he once claimed at the age of four or five, when asked: "Which twin are you?"; but I'm the taller one.

We were born in Charleston, West Virginia, a place I've never revisited since leaving at the age of two, so my memories of it are slim to none. Next was Pine Bluff, Arkansas, where Dad did research on white phosphorus at the Pine Bluff Arsenal during the war. (Whaddya mean, which war?) Then it was on to KANSAS, the ancestral homeland! When people ask where I'm from, I say Kansas, even though I wasn't born there.

The reason is that I've lived and traveled on four continents (North America, Europe, Australia, and Africa) and for a long time it was really hard to figure out where I was from. We lived in Palmer and in Topeka [Kansas] for six years, where Howard and I [and later Bob and Ben] got started at Polk School, which years later was destroyed in a huge tornado, along with the public children's library I used to love. Then we moved to Lindsborg, Kansas, home of Bethany College, where Dad (changing careers) had his first teaching job. Not long afterwards, we followed him to another teaching position in Pocatello, Idaho, where I played basketball and track and tried to attract girls. Then there was yet another move, to Pomona, California. Howard and I graduated from Pomona High School in 1959. Doesn't seem like that long ago.

Dad taught [physics] at California State Polytechnic College until his death, but my wanderings were just beginning. I started college at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, as a mathematics major. Then, from 1961-1963, I served an LDS (Mormon) mission in France. Now that was a memorable experience, to live and work in a foreign culture at such an age! I lived in Paris and its suburbs and in the cities of Bordeaux, Tours, and Le Mans. I still love to speak French whenever I have the opportunity.

Back home, draft bait [for the Vietnam War] with no money, I joined the California National Guard and after my training attended Los Angeles State College. Finally, I made it back to BYU; but now many of my ideas were changing. I switched my major to English and transferred to Sacramento State University in California, where I completed my B.A. Then I went to Northwestern University near Chicago, where I earned M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in English and ...

Met my wife Sharon! We were married at the Roman Catholic Galvin Chapel near Northwestern on June 12, 1970. Thirty year anniversary coming up! We met at a Halloween party. It was truly an enchanted evening. We noticed each other across a crowded room and were brought together by a "magician" who later was my best man. What fun it was to be impoverished graduate students with high hopes for the future!

Next stop was Bangor, Maine. I was an assistant professor at the University of Maine, but resigned after five years to open an antiquarian book shop. About this time, at age 37, I realized I had lived in 17 different places. Lemmee see, that's an average of 2.2 years per location. And that doesn't even count the different houses I lived in. I felt rootless.

We did stay in Bangor for thirteen years, however. That's where our two daughters, Cassie and Christy, were born. I learned computer programming, closed the book shop, and so changed careers again. I also became heavily involved in music and other church activities.

Later, we moved here to Mount Vernon, Iowa, where we've resided since 1985. I'm happy and proud to say that I have finally put down some roots. The kids may want to go to college out of state -- isn't that the way kids are -- but I'm firmly planted here.

Since we've been here I've been employed on software development at the same company, the girls gave grown up, and Sharon and I have a good life together, and I'm healthy, happy, and secure. The roots have taken, the branches are mature, and the leaves are lovely.

Hal Dendurent -- July 1999.