Walt’s Book


With Honor Cultivate the World

The title of this book, With Honor Cultivate the World, takes its name from a calligraphy commissioned by the Ministry of Education for The Republic of Korea as a gift to Walter L. Powers for his work with Peabody College and the Agency for International Development in Korea 1961-62. The calligrapher took the name “Powers” translated it to “Honor” and translated the nature of Walter's work to “Cultivate the World.”

Praise for With Honor Cultivate the World:

“In 80 years on earth, a person can choose to do little or do a lot. Walter Powers chose to do a lot. He has traveled the world, sharing his knowledge of history’s most profound theories in psychology with thousands of colleagues and students. Along the way, he grew physically, mentally and spiritually as he learned from a world of experiences.

With Honor Cultivate the World is Walter Powers’ lifelong journey as a son, brother, student, teacher, professor, husband, father, and grandfather. His adventures as a young entrepreneur are inspiring. His love letters to his sweetheart future wife during wartime are touching. And his accounts as a world traveler are the candid writings of an observer with a keen eye for human nature and characteristics that set cultures and classes apart.

“His reflections and descriptions of the world during good times and bad are warmly humorous and entertaining for anyone who has experienced a little or a lot in all the world has to offer.”

—Pat Spanjer,
Eastern Washington University

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Table of Contents

Part One: Early life and Career at Eastern Washington University

  • Chapter 1 From Riches to Rags
  • Chapter 2 Waco High School
  • Chapter 3 WWII “You’re in the Navy Now!”
  • Chapter 4 Returning Home from the Navy
  • Chapter 5 First Teaching Position
  • Chapter 6 Appointment to Eastern Washington
  • Chapter 7 Readjusting after Korea
  • Chapter 8 Norman Rockwell Collection
  • Chapter 9 Family Trip Around the World

Part Two: International Professional Experience

  • Chapter 10 Korea 1960-62
  • Chapter 11 Keele University England 1966-67
  • Chapter 12 Air Force Program 1970-1985
  • Chapter 13 Tver University, Russis 1990
  • Chapter 14 Stellenboash University, South Africa 1995

Part Three: Life After Eastern Washington University

  • Walter Powers Scholarship
  • Honolulu Condo
  • My Spiritual Journey

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Courting Myrt

Loose-fitting green surgery pants and top with surgical mask hanging down around my neck was my uniform of the day. This is what I was wearing one afternoon at Santa Barbara Marine Air Base when a “Hail and Farewell” reception was being held for the incoming and outgoing hospital commanders. I stood by the door looking in. I heard a voice saying, “Excuse me.” As I moved aside, she looked right at me and with a pleasant smile warmly said, “thank you.” With both hands holding a big beautifully decorated cake, she walked to the table in front. The group of about twenty-five came to life, as the ceremony was about to begin. Her freshly pressed and lightly fitting green marine uniform fit perfectly. My eyes followed her graceful body movements every step of the way. I nudged a friend standing next to me and whispered, “Man! who is that?” He said “Oh, don’t you know Myrt Miller who works in the kitchen as dietician.--? Every patient in the place thinks she is the greatest, but if you are thinking of getting a date, forget it.” I thought she was the most beautiful lady Marine I had ever seen. I immediately knew I wanted to know her.

The next day was Saturday, and I had the duty, so I looked around the clinic hoping she was also on duty. No such luck. I decided to call over to the women’s barracks to congratulate her about the beautifully decorated cake as an opener for conversation. When I phoned and asked if Myrt Miller was in, the person who answered looked on the roster and responded with, “We don’t have a Myrtle Miller, but have a Myrtle Mueller who goes by “Myrt.” I had a sinking sensation, but I was already in too deep to just hang up, so I asked to speak to her. While waiting, which seemed like eternity, my mind raced, trying to think of how to sort out the name confusion, not even knowing whether I had the right women’s barracks. When she answered, I stammered around a little and asked if she worked at the clinic dining hall. When she, said she did, I told her I was Walt Powers and that I also worked over there. She said, “Oh, I know you. You work in surgery, don’t you? I come over occasionally to watch, especially if a patient I know is there, but since I wear a mask, you probably wouldn’t recognize me.”

I knew that I had the right Myrt on the phone, so after a little chat and a bit of courage, I asked if she would like to go bicycling the next day, which was Sunday. She said she goes to church in Santa Barbara in the morning, but would be happy to go in the afternoon. We met at the recreation center and checked out a couple of bicycles. My pulse accelerated when she arrived wearing white shorts and top. I suggested we go down by the beach road, then around the airstrip. It was a great, sunny afternoon. We talked and laughed a lot about some of the antics of staff we both knew. When I tried to get closer to her bicycle, my front wheel turned and caught her pedal, dumping us both on the pavement at the end of the runway. Now I’ve done it, I thought as I profusely apologized. She had skin abrasions on her hand, arm, and knee. There was just a little blood oozing from the abrasions, so we biked over to the clinic. I bandaged her arm and hand in up in gentle and professional manner, making sure she recognized my skill. Her knee was an entirely different factor. As she sat down on a stool, I placed my hand under her leg just above the knee to hold it for bandaging. I just couldn’t stop wrapping layer after layer of bandage. Finally she said, “Don’t you think just a patch would do?” I agreed and took my time slowly to unwrap the gauze.

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Family Trip Around the World 1962

In September 1962 at the intersection of US 395 highway near Umatilla, Oregon, and Interstate 84, our car passed the point where we had circumnavigated the globe. The trip began in December 1960, when Myrt and the boys had passed that point en route to Portland and then Korea.

When planning our return trip from Korea to Cheney, several travel agencies tried very hard to get our business. Airline fares were regulated from point to point, regardless of which airline flew the route. There was a great deal of competition among the various airlines – national or international – flying the same route. Because the fare was the same for all of them on international flights, many airlines flew the same route. For example, Tokyo to Hong Kong, several airlines flew this route but not daily. Some airlines flew only four times a week; consequently they were obligated to provide hotel accommodations and meals if passengers were in transit transferring to their airline. One agency, bending the rules to our advantage, offered us four stopovers at airline expense. We needed five tickets from Seoul Korea to Stuttgart, Germany where we were to pick up our new Mercedes at the factory. For example, we took Korean Air from Seoul to Tokyo, but since the airline didn’t fly to Hong Kong, we transferred to another airline, which flew the next day from Tokyo to Hong Kong. It was considered a connecting flight in transit, so the connecting airline had to accommodate our hotel, meals and taxi while waiting. The agent worked it out so that we would be in transit at least 24 hours in Tokyo, Hong Kong, Bangkok and Calcutta.

Peabody provided first class fare worth $3,406 from Seoul to Spokane, but we could convert the first class fare for coach and travel on around the world for only $677 extra for the whole family. This included the airfare from Seoul to Stuttgart for $2,917 and the $1,156 fare for the crossing (cruise) on the S.S. Independence from Naples to New York. We drove about 2,600 miles in Europe and about 3,000 miles from New York to Cheney. The overall trip took almost eight weeks, with about 5,600 miles by car.

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Lost and found

Myrt is a dedicated huckleberry picker. She grew up on a berry farm in Oregon where she developed a love for picking strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, etc. When picking huckleberries, her arms and hands work untiringly like a well-oiled machine moving in rhythm, rapidly and skillfully. She eagerly picks in rain or shine, cold or hot, moving from bush to bush to gather unknown quantities until all are picked. Her eyes and mind are focused on picking without notice of directions east or west, right or left, up or down.

One summer day while at our cabin on Priest Lake, we decided to go high in the mountains to a location we had heard about but had never been to. After driving several miles on gravel road, we came to a fork and took the one to the right, which had been used for logging on one of the numerous mountains around Priest Lake. We drove up toward the summit where the road became narrower, as it wound by the curving mountain side. Grass had grown up in the middle of the road between the dirt ruts made by logging trucks. The road showed no signs of recent use. This was no place for our modern car, but I dared to continue to drive on. “I see huckleberries up here,” Myrt said excitedly. I swear she seemed to be able to spot a 12-inch huckleberry bush at a hundred yards. My eyes were glued just 10 feet ahead of the car watching for the mountain precipice just a foot off the road. We were not quite at the summit where I was able to pull off the road at the only spot we had seen for miles. It looked like an old camping spot used by someone more adventurous than we were. Several acres had been logged years ago. It looked like we might be able to pick close to the car.

Myrt strapped on her bucket with a bungee cord around her waist and headed for the first huckleberry bush she could see. The single huckleberry bushes were widely scattered, enough to keep her moving from one to another hoping to find a patch of several bushes clumped together. The bushes were scattered among the stumps, deep logging slash and new growth. Some new growth was as tall as she was. It was a rugged and steep in places. I wasn’t too eager to get started right away after the intensive drive. I only wanted to rest my eyes for a moment, but quickly fell asleep while leaning back on the car headrest. I woke up 30 minutes later.

I called out her name and was surprised to not get an answer. I called again and again; still no answer. I honked the horn. She never gets out of earshot, so I became a bit anxious and began walking back down the road, calling out along the ridge. I walked far enough back down the road into the tree line to stir up some big animal. At first it startled me to think it could be a bear. I heard it crashing through the thicket as it ran down the mountainside. I didn’t see it, but I decided it had to be an elk or moose. Believing Myrt would stay near the road and the car, I decided to go on farther up the road toward the summit, calling her name all along the way. Back and forth, up and down and all around, I called her name. One hour passed, then two hours, then almost three. My voice was the only sound in the dead silence of the mountains. Not even a whisper of wind could be heard. The hot sun bore down on me. I felt guilty about falling asleep. My heart pounded more and more with each passing minute. I concluded that she was lost in the mountains and possibly in danger. I silently prayed over and over, forcing catastrophic thoughts out of my brain. What should I do? I wondered how long it would take to drive back for a search party?. I knew we were miles from even a remote cabin or a telephone. If she had fallen and was hurt, I couldn’t think of any medical clinic closer than Newport more than 50 miles away. I kept thinking she might just answer me any minute even as my hopes began to fade. I needed help, but I couldn’t convince myself to leave her alone in the mountain wilderness.

I decided to try once more by going to the area where I had last seen her. I searched again, trying to follow where she had picked the bushes clean. Surely she wouldn’t knowingly have gone up and over the ridge and down the other side, away from the car. Any direction I could take was worth the try. As I came to the top of the ridge and looked over the other side, all I could see for miles was forested mountains and valleys in every direction. I yelled her name again, then suddenly I thought I heard a faint sound way down below in the distance. I yelled again, holding my breath to silence everything, straining to hear. It was a distant sound I had not heard since I was a kid playing cowboy and Indians. A high pitched Woo, Woo, Woo. I yelled her name and heard it again, I turned my head left and right, trying to determine which direction below it was coming from. I knew it was her. While yelling “OK, OK,” I began to rush down the mountainside, jumping over logs and slash. I dodged tree limbs. I stumbled a couple times. While my heart was beating louder, I was gasping for breath, I heard the sound coming nearer and nearer. All I wanted was for her to hear me yelling “OK” so she would know I was coming for her. Then I saw her sitting on a large rock out-cropping 50 yards away. She was making a high-pitched sound with her open hand moving back and forth to her mouth as Indians do in a war chant. Its sound carried much farther than my calling her name. The best sound of all was when she yelled, “OK,” as I came closer. Finally after more than three hours, with tears in our eyes, we were united again.

Both of us trudged back up the mountain, so out of breath that neither of us could talk. This was not the time for questions and answers. It was time to get back to the car and down the mountain to safety. As we got in the car, I asked her if she got any huckleberries. “ Oh, yes, lots, but I got so thirsty that I ate them. All I have left is this handful of huckleberries.”

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A Korean Marriage
There is an old saying that goes like this: “In Western cultures we marry the one we love but in oriental cultures they love the one they marry.” Young Jo had often told me of his own wedding as we discussed and shared our cultural differences. The more interest that I showed toward his culture, the more eager he was to give me opportunities to experience it. Because his sister was to be married in the traditional manner, he invited our family to the wedding. Myrt and the boys were unable to take off from school. Miss Sang had also been invited, so she accompanied me. A traditional wedding of this nature would be rare due to the rapidly changing world.
Because Mr. Kim was the eldest son, as well as the only educated one from his village and clan, he needed to leave for his home the day before the wedding to carry out special responsibilities. Our three-hour trip to the village started early.  A few miles outside Taegu, the pavement ended and we were on gravel road.  We passed village after village.  All along the road, we passed people walking, riding bicycles, pulling carts and riding oxcarts. Occasionally, a bus with more than the legal capacity of passengers passed us bound for the city, leaving a suffocating cloud of dust as it passed. We rumbled along on rugged washboard roads that became narrower as the miles passed.  We finally saw his village nestled on the side of a hill, a mile off the road.  An oxcart path through a dry creek bed was the only way to the village. We decided that the oxcart path would provide an adequate roadbed for our ruggedly built van.
As we approached the village, children and adults ran down to the creek bed to view the first automobile that had ever ventured that close. Dressed in his Western style business suit, Young Jo’s figure stood out prominently in front of the crowd.  He greeted me with a low bow and a beaming smile. He spoke loud enough for everyone to hear him say, “Dr. Powers, welcome to Nak Tong – you are the greatest dignitary ever to visit our village.” He could not have done better on a Shakespearian stage.  I chuckled inside. I knew he was not speaking to me. He wanted his people to hear him speak in English as proof of his being the only person from the village to be educated and to be proud of the position he held.

We walked along a well-worn path up the hill, passing a couple dozen thatch-roofed homes made of mud, bamboo and stone. Each home was surrounded by a six-foot-high stone wall. A band of children followed close behind, laughing and chatting as in a gala parade. I felt like the pied piper.  I knew that they were laughing at me because Americans had larger noses, and I was the first American most had ever seen.
When we entered the yard of Mr. Kim’s house, there was a great deal of activity taking place.  Smoke was billowing from the earthen fireplace and large kettles of rice and highly spiced kim-chee were being placed in preparation for a feast. In one corner of the yard, a small group of men were sitting on bamboo mats, legs crossed in the oriental fashion.  In the opposite corner of the yard, on a bed of straw, a bullock was peacefully chewing his cud.
Young Jo ushered us into a small room of his home nearest the entry gate to await the arrival of the groom. He excused himself to attend to the many activities beginning to take place and to greet guests. As he left, he approached the men sitting on a straw mat.  He dropped to his knees, placing his hands on his thighs, and bowed three times very low until his forehead touched the ground. This traditional bow is only used on special occasions to signify respect.

The room where Mr. Kim left us was about 7’ x 7’ and had no furniture except for three pillows for seating. One was next to a support post on the inner wall where the ranking member of the family usually sat. The floor was the typical andal type, made of clay with 4-inch-round passageways that circulate heat from a coal fire on the outside of each room. It was covered with a special heavy-duty oilpaper, which only needed replacement every three years because no shoes were allowed inside the house. There was only one window, covered with rice paper, in addition to a sliding door also covered with rice paper over a thin wood frame leading to the outside. Another sliding door led into the adjoining room where six prominent papa-sans sat talking.  Each of the men, with long, gray beards, wore the traditional tall, horsehair hats, white cotton robes and smoked long, 15-inch, thin-stemmed pipes.  One of these gentlemen was Mr. Kim’s 85-year-old father. When I was introduced to him, he said that I was the first American he had ever seen or talked to. (Note: He died six months later and on the same day, three hours after he passed away, his 85-year-old wife also died.)
The rice paper doors were well worn and I had no difficulty viewing the outside activities through the small tears. At about two o’clock, excitement grew and I was informed that the groom was about to arrive. Looking out of the door toward the path leading up the hill to the house, I could see him approaching, accompanied by his father and the marriage arranger. The groom was dressed in a special marriage ceremony blue robe with a large, brass belt. His costume was a communal robe, which was the property of his own village and had been used many times, as evidenced by its condition. It was a fashioned robe of nobility, and for those who were not of nobility, it could be worn only on wedding days.
The groom was ushered to a position under a small hemp tent, which had been erected in the middle of the yard.  He knelt on one side of a table, which was divided in the middle by a tattered silk, four-panel communal screen to block the view of his bride who would soon occupy the opposite side of the altar table. Several dried fish, a live rooster, a bowl of uncooked rice, a brass sake decanter, dried salted fish and flowers had been placed on each side of the table. Each object had significance to wedding ceremonies.
The arranger became the master of ceremonies and determined the order of the events. He directed the groom to face the north, a traditional gesture to tell heaven and the king in Seoul of his marriage. The bride was then led from a room in the house out into the yard and under the tent. Her father accompanied her on one side and Kim Young Jo, her eldest brother, guided her from the other side to the table. She was also dressed in a special ceremonial robe.  She clasped her hands up to her brow, draped with a veil so as to block her face from view. As she took her position at the altar, she was instructed to bow twice toward her bridegroom who was still blocked from view.  A cup of sake wine was presented to the groom who took three symbolic sips.  The bride’s cup was given to Mr. Kim instead of the bride who still held her hands above her brow, holding the veil.  In a symbolic gesture, Mr. Kim moved the cup toward her lips, but quickly and deliberately spilled the sake on the ground. The arranger said a few words that I didn’t understand, and then she dropped her vale as the panel was removed. The bride and groom saw each other for the first time! They were married, but neither smiled nor changed their solemn facial expressions. Mr. Kim came up to me and with an apology, said they were unable to arrange for a photographer and asked if I would take the wedding pictures. Afterwards, the bride was led back into the house.
According to custom, the marriage had been arranged by the couple’s parents and/or relatives and through an arranger or go-between.  Brides and grooms usually come from different villages or clans, e.g. Kim, Lee, and Pak.  The two are usually well matched in terms of age, temperament, customs and religious beliefs.  Go-betweens seek out this information on an informal basis at first, perhaps even disguising themselves as peddlers, and then later on a formal information-seeking basis. If both parents are satisfied with the information received, the bridegrooms’ fathers write the marriage certificates called saji, which contain the year of birth, month, day and hour, written in Chinese literary form.  This usually requires the talents of a scholar or specialist. When the girl receives the saju, she is officially engaged.

The bride and groom saw each other for the first time only moments before this picture taken in the traditional Korean arranged marriage. After the ceremony, everyone in the village was treated to a festive meal and sake. Time passed quickly, and I found it necessary to start our long journey home before the festivities concluded.  After the meal, everyone left except close friends and relatives. The groom was to remain at the bride’s home for several days.  That evening, when the new couple was alone in their room, lit only by a candle, they talked for several hours, attempting to learn as much as they could about each other. The bride’s brothers, sisters and friends stayed around, trying to disturb the couple as much as they could. Since the bedroom had only rice paper-covered doors and a window, they could not see inside.  By dampening their fingers on their tongues and touching them to the rice paper, the opaqueness cleared away and they could see through. This kind of activity prevailed until the candle burned down and the room became dark.
Throughout the day, the bride maintained a sober, unsmiling face. It is said that the bride who smiles on her wedding day will produce a girl as their first child instead of the highly desired son. On the day following the wedding, the younger brothers and their friends from the village were still in a festive mood. They gathered to see if any food was left, but generally they gathered to carry on mischievous activities toward the groom whom they accused of coming to their village and stealing a young girl from the family and the community.  The excitement began when one of them stated that there was a thief in the village. The thief was to be detected as having the largest feet.  Of course, the groom was measured and found to have the largest feet.  He was immediately bound and hung by his feet from a rafter on the porch and beaten until he called for his mother-in-law.  She was the only one who could identify him as the bridegroom and not a thief.
After three days, the groom took his newly acquired wife to his own community and home.  She was introduced as the newest member of the family.  As such, she had to occupy the lowest position in the family and was delegated the most undesirable task around the house, such as cleaning rice pots.  She had to work hard to prove herself as a worthy family member. Generally, the bride maintained this position until the couple moved or until a newer member was brought into the family.  Even when the couple returned for frequent visits, she would be expected to perform the menial tasks around her husband’s home.

If she were married to the eldest son, her position would be elevated more quickly. The eldest son begins to take over responsibilities at an early age.  This responsibility includes management of the property and help in rearing the younger brothers and sisters.

I had no doubt that the marriage that I witnessed would be a long and perhaps a happy one – the same as their parents’, grandparents’ and ancestors’ marriages. I found that this was not always true among some of the more educated Koreans that I had worked with, especially those marriages among the few affluent. The traditional marriage I witnessed in the rural side, with its values that the bride and groom held, had come about through long tradition and stability.  They each knew the roles that they were to live. The bride had been brought up in an environment in which she would be identified as a woman, mother and wife with special duties and responsibilities. The role she would play was based upon the concepts of tradition where she had no room for doubt or question. The groom also recognized his role thoroughly and would be the man, father and husband. He had a status and position, which he would be required to live and maintain. He would love his wife because she was his wife and that was the core value that tradition dictates. She would love the man she married for the same reason.

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Order Walt's Book

You can order Walt's book from the Eastern Washington University Bookstore.

Or to order Walt's book directly from him, please send an email to waltpowers|AT|sisna|DOT|com (please make the appropriate changes to the email address so your request will be delivered) with the quantity of books you'd like.

The price per book is $16.00 U.S.

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