During my undergraduate days at the University of Iowa, all undergraduates were required to take, in addition to the courses in their major field, eight hours in each of four general or core areas — history, social studies, literature and science. There was also a requirement of two years (four semesters) of Military Science and Tactics (ROTC) and physical education.

In addition, each new student was required to show adequate skills through tests in communication science (English grammar, speech and writing) and general mathematics.


During my undergraduate days at the University of Iowa, all undergraduates were required to take, in addition to the courses in their major field, eight hours in each of four general or core areas — history, social studies, literature and science. There was also a requirement of two years (four semesters) of Military Science and Tactics (ROTC) and physical education.
In addition, each new student was required to show adequate skills through tests in communication science (English grammar, speech and writing) and general mathematics. Not passing those skills added the requirement of taking basic courses in those areas. Those requirements were for everyone with two exceptions. Service veterans were excused from ROTC requirement, and those of us involved in athletics were exempt from the physical education requirement. Getting All-American honors did not exempt anyone from the other basic requirements.
I didn't list those requirements to illustrate the differences in today's higher education. I'll stick with one professor in one of those "core" areas - history. Almost every student met the history requirements with History of Western Civilization I (four hours) and History of Western Civilization II (four hours). These courses covered history of Europe and the Americas from 1815 forward. The lead professor in those courses was a man named George Mosse. Two days a week, everyone registered for those courses (some 200 students) would meet in a large lecture hall and listen to a lecture by Dr. Mosse or his assistant professor. The other two days, those registered were broken into discussion groups of about 25, conducted by graduate assistants.
At the time, I didn't know much about Dr. Mosse other than he was a no-nonsense educator who was born in Germany and, unlike his assistant professor, had little use for Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal (Mister Rooooosevelt is how he would express it.
In more recent years I ran across George Mosse again when he appeared as an expert on History Channel shows. So, I looked up his biography and learned that he was the best prepared of any professor. That's because the best source of history is witnessing it. When you consider that my life span included more than 70 percent of the 20th Century, I understand the final two-thirds of that history-packed era better than is reported in any history book.
George Mosse was born in Berlin to one of the richest Jewish family in Germany. His grandfather started and published one of top newspapers in Europe and his father continued to publish the paper that brought in millions. His birth in 1918 coincided with the end of the "Great War to end All Wars," which devastated the German economy to a point that by the middle to late 1920s, inflation made it necessary to carry the money to the store in a wheelbarrow to purchase an arm load of groceries.
But like all bad time including our Depression, a few people got even richer. In Germany the Mosses were such a family. George Mosse, as a boy, was sent to a boarding school which was operated mostly by military minded men who were mostly favorable to the growing National People's Party and were anti-semetic. The school had a strict physical curriculum which was hard on Mosse, being a small and weak youngster. It was there that he learned he was a homosexual, which, in later life, led him to write "The History of Masculinity."
But I heard him once describe the pageantry of the growing Nazi movement when he said it even excited him, a Jewish boy. But by 1933, when Mosse was 15, the Nazis had advanced into power and he and his father, who had remarried, had to leave Germany. His mother and sister had previously emigrated to Switzerland.
When George Mosse lectured in The History of Western Civilization at the University of Iowa and in other history courses later at the University of Wisconsin, where he went to become head of the entire history department, one got the facts first hand. But one also got the interpretations the lecturer made from the facts he was reporting. Interpretations are connected to one's own environment. And that, dear reader, is the lead to next week's Back Porch column.
Trivia Time
In what comic strip, still appearing in some papers, were two impish boys named Hans and Fritz featured? Answer to last question. Last week I asked why gas was considerably cheaper in Alexandria and DeRidder than in Leesville. I don't have any idea of why and I haven't been able to find out. Oh, one guy did say it was "Murphy's Law." Anybody know how I can get in touch with Murphy?
Contact George Frasher at 337-424-7404, E-mail at georgefrasher@aol.com.