Article in U of Utah magazine

From my aunt’s e-mail thread.

It’s a page from the Alumni magazine

article in U of Utah magazine.jpg

KOREAN FAMILY MAKES MANY SCHOLASTIC ACHIEVEMENTS

Reminiscing with musical records from home on the family stereo set is the Dr. Alexis Taikyue Ree family, 228 Douglas Street. Dr. Ree came to Salt Lake City 12 years ago as an exchange professor at the University of Utah. During the Korean War he lost contact with his family, who finally joined him six years later. Left to right, they are Bernadette, 25; Teresa, 23; Joan, 15; and Dr. and Mrs. Ree.

Many requests come to the Ree family to describe and model their native costume which they wear only at such occasions. Both older girls are working toward a doctors degree at the University. Bernadette is a psychology major, Teresa is studying chemistry. An older brother, Francis, has his Ph.D. and is working in atomic research at the University of California in Berkeley.

Dr. Ree worked with Dr. Henry Eyring, now Dean of the Graduate School at the U., in 1939-41 at Princeton University. A native of Korea, Dr. Ree graduated from and then taught chemistry at Kyoto University in Korea (ED: in Japan). After World War II he was invited to return to Korea where at that time he became dean of Arts and Science at the University of Seoul (ED: Seoul National University).

Mrs. Ree, from one of the oldest Catholic family in Korea, reports interesting stories of martyrdom in her ancestry. In America as in Korea, she is strictly a housewfie and mother. All four of the children were born in Korea (ED: two were born in Japan). Joan is a freshman at Judge Memorial High School and has taken piano lessons since she was seven.

At the International Atomic Energy Conference in Vienna, Austria, in October, 1960, Dr. Ree received this significant medal form the Korean Government. The Korean National Academy Award, it was presented for his research in chemistry kinetics (the behavior of molecules and atoms) and for his research in plastics. At the time Korea sent a delegation to honor him.

ALEX:
Uncle Francis is nowhere in the pics.

AUNT GIA:
He could’ve opted out. He was a stubborn boy back then.

ME:
It’s possible he was in grad school at Berkeley. This article looks like it’s in the early 60’s. Clearly mom was talking to grandfather at this point so they’ve been in the US for a little while. ūüôā

UNCLE FRANCIS:
I never had gone to UCB grad school. I only sneaked in any lectures by physics prof. without paying tuition, as I already had my PhD at Utah.

ME:
I must be confused. ūüôā There’s a story mom told that had something to you visiting universities. Apparently Grandma had a big fear of flying back then so she bought you train tickets around the country to visit all the schools. It would take months for you to complete. The whole family saw you off at the train station.

Less than a month later, Gia and mom came home to see you sitting on the couch watching TV or reading the newspaper as if it was any other day.

“Aren’t you supposed to be traveling visiting universities,” they asked?

“Well I took the train to the first one, but it was such a long and terrible ride,” you replied. “I decided to go ahead and exchange all my train tickets for plane ones, so now I’m back.” You, of course, didn’t want to worry grandma by telling you had done this until you were safely ensconced back in Salt Lake City.

(Back then, train tickets were more expensive than plane tickets.)

UNCLE FRANCIS:
You’re partly right, although the 3-week train trip I took in the winter of 1960 was an interview trip with companies, like Corning Glass at Corning, GE research lab at Schenectady, NY, then to an oil company Scone-Mobile in Dallas, then to another one Exxon(?) in Freeport, near Houston.

When I arrived in Saint Louis by train from NYC, I was dog-gone tired and my high schoolmate, who came to see me at the train station, persuaded me to stay with him at his one-room apartment. Next day, I flew to Dallas without telling mom. It took only 2 hours instead of more than one-day train ride. It was such a wonderful feeling.

BTW: On the way to St. Louis, I found out that I left my beloved Leica camera at the Radio City Musical Hall but it was too late.

BTW2: When I left Salt Lake City for the trip, my parents came to send me off at the Western Union train station. It was the first and last time I saw my mom wiping off tear with her handkerchief, waving “good-bye”. She must have felt sad, as it was the first time she let her offspring go without her accompanying.

By the time I took a Rio Grande train from Houston to return to Salt Lake City, I spent all my money (0 cent left) and had to starve for 2 days on the train. My mom wanted me to not fly because the first airline highjack occurred a few weeks before my trip. 

That was also the time the Soviet launched Sputnik and later a spacecraft with Yuri Gagarin inside. USA was far behind the space race and put an all out effort to catch up the Soviets; alas not many scientists in USA to recruit (after the Great Depression and the WWII). I could call any company for interview in the middle of night from my office and they would gladly interview me and offer me a job. None had refused after I did such interviews ten times.

AUNT GIA:
What a wonderful recollection. Thank you for telling. I didn’t know most of it but remember you traveling for many days for job interviews. When you came home you said you had been very constipated and ate a lot of peanuts to get over it. I faintly remember meeting you at the Pacific Union train station.

UNCLE FRANCIS:
I flew from St. Louis to Dallas by a Continental Air jet. It was around the time when the US airlines started using jet engined planes. It was so quiet and big and smooth. It changed my resolution to never travel by air after sickening the engine sounds of the Pan Am plane we took from Japan to SF for more than 24 hours when we immigrated.

BTW: I think we were the first immigrants in USA from Korea after the Korean War.

AUNT GIA:
Wow, we were the FIRST! They should have had reporters waiting for us, especially so soon after the Korean War.

ALEX:
Um, do we have documentation to prove this?

TAMMY:
Probably not.

AUNT GIA:
Uncle Francis is all the documentation I need.

TAMMY:
I don’t think he counts as the kind of documentation Alex was talking about though.

CHRISTINA:
Dad you should post your opinion somewhere ‚ÄĒ once it’s online it’s a fact.¬†

NTW all this talk of family and history is wonderfully perfect timing ‚ÄĒ it’s Chuseok! Happy harvest moon everyone. I hope you all have a chance to eat some rice cake, thank the ancestors, and howl at the moon!

FRANCIS:
The armistice which ended the Korean War was signed by the UN Command & North Korean and the Chinese People’s Volunteer Army on July 27, 1953. We left Korea on Sept. 22, 1954, i.e., about 1 year later with a legitimate permanent residentship of the USA, representing as immigrants.

In¬†between¬†the above two time periods, the GIs who fought the war and adopted Korean orphans or who employed Korean youngsters as their ‘house boys’ but later took them as their adopted sons and took them back to the USA after¬†the war. There¬†may be cases where GIs took Korean women as their war brides. But they were single ‚ÄĒ kids or babies or women.

Hence, we are not the first immigrants in that sense, but it is highly likely that we as the first family as a whole got the first permanent residentship after the war, considering the fact that the Korea was still embroiled in the after-war confusion and their poor living conditions. GDP per capita was $103.88 in 1962. It might have been $50 or below at the end of the Korean War in 1954. 

We got such a privilege because of our dad in USA, who could legally prove his financial sponsorship, as proven by his professorship at Utah. It is unlikely that it would happen to the others in the time period mentioned above.

BTW: When we first arrived in Salt Lake City, here were about 5 Korean students plus our dad Рno immigrant. When I went to 
Snowbird, UT in June 1999, I was told by a Korean restaurant owner that there were more than 5,000 Koreans in Salt Lake City alone.

AUNT GIA:
Thank you for the details, Bro. I am learning many things about us.

ALEX:
And you became the beginning of the fastest growing population in America!

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