BEFORE Woodstock
Woodstock Tales Tales of "How I got to Woodstock"
Gil. 18 Apr 1998

My parents came to India in the fall of 1928 to be American Baptist missionaries in Orissa. They brought with them my then 6-month-old brother Fred (class of 44). My sisters Janet (ex 45) and Lu (49) were born in India in 1929 and 1932. I was born on October 22nd, 1941 in Khargpur, West Bengal. I was something of an afterthought; although, according to my mother, a carefully planned one. She said she already had a brunette son and daughter and a blonde daughter and needed a blonde son to complete the set!

My parents were not the first members of my family to come to India. In 1834 my great great grandfather, Sewall Mason Osgood and his first wife stopped off on there way to Moulmein, Burma where he stayed for 14 years and printed the first Bible in Burmese from the translation prepared by Adoniram Judson. My great great grandmother, Sarah Thomas, and her first husband, the Rev. Jacob Thomas, came to India in 1837 planning to be missionaries in Assam. Thomas was drowned that same year trying to go up the flooded Brahmaputra to Sibsagar. He was pinned underwater when a tree fell on his dugout canoe. My great great grandmother then went to Moulmein where she married my great great grandfather who had been widowed by the death of his first wife from disease. By a strange coincidence in the mid 1950's, my sister Janet and her husband were assigned to be missionaries in Sibsagar, Assam but were denied an entry permit and ended up going to Moulmein instead!

My siblings did all their early schooling at Mt. Hermon in Darjeeling and I spent the first summer of my life there in 1942. On the strength of this residence from about ages 6 to 10 months my brother sent my name in to the Mt. Hermon alumni newsletter and I believe I am now the youngest person on their mailing list! In 1943 the family switched to Woodstock because the climate was supposed to be better for my brother who had had rheumatic fever. I have no memories of Landour from 1943 and 1944 but I remember very clearly starting Lower Kindergarten in 1947 after our return from furlough. I then attended school there continuously, except for 4th standard (1952) when we were again on furlough, until our graduation in 1959.

My time away from Landour was spent in the tiny village of Hatigarh in northern Orissa where I learned to speak Oriya at the same time I was learning English. We had no electricity and running water depended on someone pumping it by hand from our well to the tank that stood on a tower at one end of the house. After my siblings graduated and went back to the States I was the only white kid for 40 miles in any direction and literally owned almost all the toys in the village. I used to get stared at a lot when we went to other villages and would often have an entourage of curious people follow me as I walked about. Fortunately for my ego I had all of you at Woodstock to keep my feet solidly on the ground!

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BEFORE Woodstock Return to tales of before Woodstock. Or Class of '59.