By Janet G. Go ( Geog’53)
“Stutterbox,” my classmates at Hyattsville Elementary School, Maryland, called me. This hurt me then, but, in hindsight, it probably jump-started my career. By age 11, I was selling stories for a dollar each to the Washington (D.C.) Star, and I worked for the Hyattsville weekly newspaper, The Prince Georgean, until I was 16.
It seemed natural that I study journalism in college. In the 1940s the CU journalism program , ranked in the top 10 in the country. My father liked CU and thought I should apply. I was accepted as a non-resident student, but my father died in December 1943, when I was a sophomore in high school. I wrote his obituary for the local paper.
As I boarded the train at Washington’s Union Station in September 1947 I was excited at going west for the first time. My black trunk held all my possessions: clothes, ice skates, a portable typewriter, a used Rolleiflex camera and a scrapbook of writing clips.
Before my 17th birthday in July, my mother remarried and moved to San Diego. I was an only child, so I was used to being alone. But this time, I felt abandoned, homeless.
In one of CU’s freshman dormitory, Bigelow Hall (the southwestern wing of Sewall), my three roommates and I had a breathtaking view of the Flatirons. Soon, I felt at home with my CU “family.” I kept busy with classes, dances, dates and ball games. I was the “official” photographer for Bigelow Hall, and I played the piano for song-and-dance shows we coeds put on for veterans at Fitzsimmons Hospital in Denver.
Journalism classes met in the dank basement of Old Main. Frosh were required to take “History of Journalism,” taught by the professor who had written a textbook of the same name. Sophomore courses consisted of writing leads and news stories.
The money my father saved for my education was depleted during his three-year bout with leukemia. I cut my expenses by moving into the Campus Club, on the corner of 13th and Pennsylvania Avenue, where we coeds cooked, cleaned and managed the house. Also, between classes I worked as a waitress, typist, bookstore clerk and babysitter.
In 1949 I learned to ski in physical education class and joined the Buff Ski Club. CU leased a cabin at the foot of Winter Park’s slopes and a house in Georgetown, close to Arapahoe Basin. To reduce expenses on ski weekends, I kept gates for club races and helped at the cabins by cooking meals and cleaning. After my sophomore year I went to live with my mother and stepfather in San Diego, where I worked for the Naval Reserve Records Office for a year.
When I returned for my junior year at CU, I changed my major to geography. I had survived speech therapy classes, but it was still agony talking in front of classmates. I took English composition classes and wrote for the humor magazine, Colorado Dodo, but I thought a stuttering reporter would seem incompetent to people in the “real” world.
In the summers of 1950 and ’51 I worked for the U.S. Geological Survey and the Board on Geographic Names in Washington, D.C. I didn’t return to CU that fall; I worked until December to save money to sail to Norway with my college roommate, Bonnie Berge Smith (Art’51). After we attended the 1952 Winter Olympic Games in Oslo, we cycled and hitchhiked around Europe for four months.
In spring 1953 I returned to Boulder for my senior year. At the graduation ceremony in Folsom Field, my geography professor, Dr. Hoffmeister, gave me the diploma. “I’m glad you made it, Janet.” My mother attended the ceremony, but I held back tears, thinking how my father would have liked to be there.
After graduation, I worked in the technical publications section of The Martin Company in Denver, where I opted for the swing shift so I could ski mornings at Winter Park. Two years later, marriage and jobs with newspapers, magazines and Civil Service took me to Hawaii and Saipan and Guam, in the Mariana Islands.
For 10 years I was a reporter for Guam’s daily newspapers, and in 1969, I wrote the first tourist guide to Guam and Micronesia. I learned to hide my stuttering and to enjoy interviewing and taking pictures of island visitors, including John Warner, Presidents Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon, Pope John Paul II, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Bob Hope, Tiny Tim, various Hollywood stars and Guam’s last Japanese straggler from World War II.
In 1991, I retired while working as a technical writer/editor for the Navy in San Diego. I moved to Fraser, Colo., where I skied, hiked, sold travel articles to the Rocky Mountain News, and wrote my first book about living on Guam. Ten years later, I moved to Grand Junction, Colorado, where I wrote three novels and published a book about my world cruise on the Queen Elizabeth 2. In 2010, I moved to Maui, Hawaii.
I’m proud to be a CU alum, and I wouldn’t trade my years in Boulder for the world. My father was right.
Descriptions of two books by Janet Go (text from amazon.com)
Don’t Miss the Boat, Cruising Through the Leisure Years by Janet Go and Perry McGinnis (Lifetime Chronicle Press) Read Janet’s tale of adventure, wining and dining, dancing and sightseeing. Her descriptions of shipboard life and of ports of call as varied as Pago Pago, Taipei, Sri Lanka, Mumbai, Athens, Valencia and Northampton will hold your interest from the time the ship sails out by the Statue of Liberty until it docks in Southampton. And it doesn’t end there – she sails back to the U.S. on the newer Queen Mary 2.
Dance of Desire Hardcover (Xlibris) Based on a true story of tangled passions in New Orleans, America’s most intriguing and sensuous city. When Remy Rawley’s husband dies suddenly at age 60, this lonely widow throws herself on the mercies of New Orleans, renowned for sin, seduction and sex.