Monday, August 26, 2019

My Grandfather Dr. Quintin DeYoung

Well, my Grandfather is a complex character. So I will start with some basics, then some discussion of my interactions with him, and then interesting things I found out about him and his family.

First off, if you google Dr. Quintin R DeYoung and Chapman College, you will find out a few things about him. He was an extremely influential professor of Psychology in general and Child Psychology in particular. In fact, in 2010 Chapman College put up a sculpture and a quote of his is used on it (below).

The first thing my family noticed is that his named is spelt incorrectly, which drove the family nuts (my mother’s obsession with correct spellings of names merits its own post some day). The quote is:

Will you seize and grasp my flickering flame? Not because I implore you. Not because your family, your friends, your ambitions implore you; but seek knowledge and truth for its own sake. You may find, as I have found, there is no truth… only the quest.

It’s inspiring but it doesn’t really capture my Grandfather fully, if anything could.

Another interesting thing that is totally true (honestly). When I was in High School in Cerritos -  about 7 miles from Chapman College in the city of Orange – I had 2 different teachers say to me, “I know this is very random, but are you related to Dr. DeYoung?”

You see, he taught Child Psychology to teachers at night and they had studied under him. That is how much we looked, sound and acted similarly.  And, in addition to being brilliant, he was bi-polar back when it was called Manic / Depression. Apparently, until the lecture started, he was an asshole, making fun of people and general being a dick. But, the minute he started lecturing he was interesting, engaging and comforting. In High School my manic and depressive swings were not nearly as pronounced, but was obvious if you were looking for the signs.

One of the last conversations we had was about Manic / Depression or bipolar episodes. He and I had separately read findings that established a coloration between the condition and the hereditary links. It turns out it travels down the female line, generally skips a generation and is passed from male heir to grandson – along the mother’s line. If you can’t follow that, it means I’m as nuts as he was. I have the benefit, thank God, of better meds.

My grandfather was proscribed Librium, which helped but has a long litany of side-effects. Given these he was inconsistent with his use of the drug and people never knew which Dr. DeYoung would show up. Fun, huh?

My Grandmother (the woman in the pictures) decided when she was older to cut up all the pictures and make colleges. See, I fairly come from a family of kooks.
-- Our Relationship –

Now for me, especially when I was young, he was a great man. I was a smart kid and he liked me a lot. I was also the first grandchild. Those that came after me were never met with as much enthusiasm or kindness. In fact, he was a complete dick to most of the following grandchildren. He would berate, belittle or simply refuse to engage with them. Even having them silently in the room watching TV with him would cause he to flare up and yell at them for little reason.

But to me, he was great. And he was smart and funny. He took me to the zoo when I was young and we discussed animals. He sat me down to watch the “monkeys” at the 1976 Republican convention when Ronald Reagan (whom he hated) was trying to take the nomination away from Gerald Ford. There was a pitched battle during that convention in which Betty Ford and Nancy Reagan were stand-ins for their husbands and the chanting went on a long time. He found it frighteningly entertaining.

He also had a foil in his wife, my Grandmother, who he often took his frustrations out. Don’t feel too horrible, she gave as good as she got, usually.

He would give me articles to read and we would discuss afterwards. 

He was also one the only adults that did not see me through the prism of my father. Don’t get me wrong, he hated my dad, but was one of the few people that could get under my dad's skin. My Grandmother could not go an entire week-end when I visited without, usually as I was about to be picked up, without drinking and going off on what an asshole my father was. This was true, but a bit difficult for an 8 – 10 year old to process or respond to. Quin always told Donna to knock it the hell off.

As a matter of fact, that was the drill. The three of us would have dinner, drinking would ensue. Donna starting harping on my Dad. Quin told Donna to shut the hell up. Donna would explain, loudly, that shut the hell up was not an appropriate response, so fuck you right back. My dad would knock on the front door, and I would leave, sometimes with a quick kiss from my grandparents, and something to the call of Donna saying something snarky to my father. I never heard anyone use the name Jerry with such venom. But I digress.

One bonding thing he did with the family (Quin, Donna, Uncle Timo and my mom) was play poker. There I was treated even more like an adult. I had to bring my own money – and if I lost it, I was done for the evening. If I won, I kept it.   

By the way, poker with the grand kids was definitely something my grandmother, Donna, kept going. All of the Grandchildren got to enjoy poker, albeit most without Quin.

The "gay thing" was apparently tough for him. Not “in general”. He actually worked as a member of the American Psychology Association to have it removed as a disease from the clinical books. And he never said anything negative to me. But apparently he was quite disappointed, and our relationship grew much less frequent. But, like I said, whenever I saw him, even after that, he was engaging and we always talked, seriously and intelligently.

I suppose my actually being gay bothered him because he was both and educator and therapist. And, most of the gay people he interacted with were sad souls struggling in the 60s and 70s when a homosexual life meant hiding and fear.

Another charming aside, the fact he was a therapist would stop me from going to the therapist for many years. That is because he would come home often, have some drinks and proceed to tell me what a crazy person told him at therapy. I mean in great and glorious detail. It took my many years from this to the point where I trust a therapist. Kudos to Dr. Craig Kane for ultimately being a therapist I could trust – but again I digress.

He was educated at Chapman College, Yale and USC with various degrees in Psychology, Divinity and Education.

More about his life, outside of me

His mother, Hilda, in the upper left.
His parents were both born in the Netherlands, and meet and married in Grand Rapids Michigan. They had 5 children, Quin was the fourth. The fifth child, a boy, only lived six months, and it seemed to take a tool on his mother. She died 2 years later, after a stay in an asylum or mental hospital in 1918 / 1919. Given the entire world suffered a flu epidemic – the worst since the black plague, I cannot imagine her mental health was a priority to the doctors.

He was raised with the archetypical evil step-mother. His father died in 1952 in San Diego, but his step-mother lived quite a few more years. I asked my mother if she had ever meet her and this was the response…

I did meet the her and she was a real bitch. Dad hated her as he said she mistreated him. He took Rick and I down to meet her once at her apt. She answered the door, with a bird on her shoulder and said mom and dad could come in, but not “ those filthy kids “ we left  and never went back.

My mother inherited his way with words.

Anyway, they moved the family at some point between 1930 and 1935 down to San Diego, where my Grandfather went to his first college (I don’t know which). At some point he married my grandmother and they moved for a while to Trona California. If you haven’t heard of Trona, join the group. It was a Borax mining town in the Mojave Desert half way between West Nowhere (Ridgecrest California) and Hell (Death Valley). I have the picture to prove it.

Quin and Donna. The children are my uncle Rick and my mom. Uncle Timo had not been born yet when this picture was taken. Why is it not in a collage? My mother grabbed it years and years ago.

They had 3 children, two within a few years (1938 – 1940) and the final child, my uncle, eight years later. They tended to move around, as pastors do, I suppose – until he took a teaching job at Chapman College.

I have heard a few different reasons my Grandfather stopped being a pastor. His reason, given to me directly, may or may not be true. He may have made it up to give me a lesson.

He said that at some point a young woman came to him for counselling about an abusive husband. She wanted in dealing with this in a Godly manner. He suggested leaving the husband. She said it wasn’t the right thing to do, according to God. He, the Minister, said God wasn’t going to do anything about this situation. God doesn’t care. His faith was pretty much gone and after the incident was reported and the church asked him to leave, he was happy to go.

His only other church story to me concerned the first object of his full on vitrol, Richard Nixon. He said that Helen Gahagan Douglas spoke at his church a few times. She was a progressive Congresswoman who mounted the first serious run as a female Senate candidate. Unfortunately, she was running against Richard Nixon. The Nixon campaign painted her as a Communist in 1950 (you can read all about it here). The campaign sent out pink slips to paint her as a communist, and Quin said that when she spoke, people from Nixon’s campaign would come in and heckle her as a Commie.

Since he was a pastor in California at this time, it actually is believable. But, true or not, it informed a lifelong dislike of Republicans and hatred of Richard Nixon in particular.

Text of page San Bernardino Sun, Volume 57, Number 260, 30 June 1951

(text of article)
Christian Church to Install New Minister of Education
  The Rev. Quintin R. DeYoung, newly-called minister of education at the First Christian church, will be formally installed at the 10:50 morning worship tomorrow, the Rev. James H. Parrott, pastor, announced. 
  John M. Asbill, chairman of the board 'of elders, and Vilas M. Spoor, chairman of the church board, will conduct the installation. At 4 p.m. Sunday the church will honor the Rev. Mr. DeYoung and his family with a reception in the church social hall. 
  A native of Grand Rapids, Mich., the new minister of education was educated in San Diego. After his marriage he was associated with Safeway Stores and became a manager in the San Francisco area, but resigned to enter Chapman college in Los Angeles. After receiving his degree in 1945 he became pastor in Artesia. He left this church to take a scholarship at Yale university for two years. 
  He was minister of Woodmount Union chapel in Connecticut in1916 and 1947. Because of the ill health of one of their children; the DeYoungs returned to California, where he became registrar and dean of students at Chapman college. He later taught religion there and for the past year he was assistant to president Dr. George N. Reeves. 
  The DeYoungs and their three children, Rickey, 13; Sharon, 10, and Timothy, 2, have made their home at 753 Arrowhead avenue.

I was still close with him when he was looking for a place to retire. We drove down to Carlsbad (about 30 miles north of San Diego) and looked at Condos. Ultimately he and Donna moved to a triple-wide unit (we were never to call it a trailer or a mobile home) at a beautiful park on the Ocean. There he lived until in retirement until 1998, when he died at age 82.

As I said, every time I saw him, he was great to me. I think it was easier to dislike the idea I was gay, than to dislike me. Up  the end we still talked about zoos (he was a member of the San Diego Zoo and I was a member of the LA Zoo) and Republicans.

1 comment:

  1. Fascinating stuff. I wish I had more memories of my grandfather. The only things I remember about him is that he would pick me up and rub my face with his scruffy whiskers (in a fun way) and carry me on his shoulders through the apple orchard.


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