Calvin: A Life In Stories: Part 2, Goshen

Each Monday for the next several weeks, I will be publishing one section of the biography on my father I created in collaboration with over 30 contributing writers. Each story brings a unique perspective about my father. Last week I shared part 1 of the writing project that focused on my father’s life growing up on a dairy farm in Northern Ohio. This week in part 2, the focus is on my father’s life as an undergraduate at Goshen College, including that time he suffered a gunshot wound while studying abroad (you read that right). Enjoy!


Introduction (here)
Part 1: Ohio (September 12, 1953 – September 1971) (here)
Part 2: Goshen College (September 1971 – June 1973) (below)
Part 3: Bolivia (September 1973 – September 1976)
Part 4: Ohio State University (September 1976 – December 1979)
Part 5: Bolivia (January 1980 – July 1992)
Part 6: Pennsylvania (July 1992 – December 1997)
Part 7: Georgia (December 1997 – July 2004)
Part 8: Italy (July 2004 – December 2015)
Part 9: Virginia (December 2015 – Present)

PART 2: Goshen
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The Ping-Pong Major
By Dave Miller (Brother)

Growing up on a diary farm in Ohio, Calvin always contributed a lot of hours to farm work. It was not easy or fun to do the daily chores. Going out in the winter before school or church was hard, but Calvin did his share without complaining. He liked the dairy cattle. Calvin, my brother Bob, and I all chose a favorite calf and that animal remained our favorite for many years as a dairy cow. Calvin and I worked hard and efficiently to complete daily chores. Bob tended to loiter and sometimes finish his chores hours later. This tended to frustrate Calvin.

One memory I have during these years is that Calvin was injured when a car hit the motorbike he was riding. I felt partly responsible, as I had purchased the bike. Calvin did later test the top end speed on our families’ 67 Ford, but never had an accident.

During his high school years, Calvin was a fairly serious and responsible student. He was not shy about sharing his opinions and enjoyed a good debate. He enjoyed Spanish class and participated in track.

I believe that it was easy for Calvin to choose to attend Goshen College, as it was fairly close to home and three older siblings had already gone to Goshen. I suspect that the Study-Service Trip (SST) Program was a major draw, as it was for me. I don’t think Calvin knew what he wanted to focus on long term, so he chose to complete his general education requirements at a familiar college.

I was a senior at Goshen during Calvin’s freshman year. I heard from Calvin about some of his activities, but I don’t have many specific memories, though I know he and others did their share of goofing off. Calvin’s room was near the rec room and he could not resist the call of the Ping-Pong table. I think it’s fair to say that he “majored” in Ping-Pong that year.

Later, during his Goshen SST term, which he had chosen to do in El Salvador, Calvin was in an intersection when a gunfight erupted. He was in the middle of the crossfire and caught a bullet in his leg. The president of the college called Mom and told her that Calvin had been shot.

SST in El Salvador
By Bruce & Helen Glick
(Goshen College SST Directors)

We, Bruce and Helen Glick, along with our young son Jonathan, found ourselves in El Salvador after the tragic earthquake in Managua, Nicaragua, late in December of 1972. Our assignment was to provide a trimester-long experience for Goshen College students. This was early on in the Study-Service-Trimester (SST) program that sends most Goshen students to a different country, where they hopefully would get a taste for what the world is really like, as well as find ways to learn and at least think about some kind of service.

Calvin “Cal” Miller came to us while we were in El Salvador, a young man from rural northwest Ohio. We were not sure what to expect from any of the students who arrived for this 14-week experience. Helen and I were still trying to adjust to a new country, one that we knew nothing about, except that the people spoke Spanish. Students probably didn’t get as much looking-after as might have been the case in another situation.

Finding placements for the second seven-week segment of the trimester worked out okay, despite not having a lot of history to work with. Peace Corps was a logical partner for us, and we were delighted when a rural/small town assignment worked out. Cal seemed like a good choice and we assumed that he would be looked after by his Peace Corp co-worker.

When all the students were out in their placements, Helen and I could relax a bit and plan trips to visit each student to see how they were doing. As is always the case for SST leaders, we hoped and prayed for good, safe experiences for each of them. Incoming phone calls from or about students always created a bit of anxiety. However, the call from Cal’s Peace Corp host was a complete shock.

As I recall, I took the call, and with little or no preamble, was told, “Calvin has been shot”. At that point, I can imagine that the young Peace Corp worker probably realized that he had been too abrupt. At any rate, I think he then said that Cal was okay, that the bullet only hit him in the leg and that he was getting medical attention.

It’s been many years and my memory may not be very good, so it will be interesting to hear Cal’s version of the story. What I remember is that Cal was walking down the street or sidewalk, on his way to work for the day. Some kind of vehicle came down the street, someone pointed a gun at a person near Cal and pulled the trigger. Evidently the bullet hit Cal after it hit the other person. I have no recollection of what happened to the other victim or the shooter. We were thinking only of Cal.

The rest of the details are sketchy. I think we made Cal come back into the city to make sure he was okay. The rest of the trimester went more or less as expected. But for Cal, amazingly this was the start of a career. Years later, Helen and I were working in Bolivia where we again ran into Cal. He had grown into a highly respected professional. From there he obviously moved on to even more important work around the globe. We are so glad that the El Salvador SST experience seems to have been a step along that way.

Coming Monday, January 23, 2017:
PART 3: Bolivia (SEPTEMBER 12, 1953 – SEPTEMBER 1971)

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