Autobiography of Jane Younger McKenzie


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Aug 20, 1936

I was born and brought up in Berkeley where I attended the public schools and the University which I completed the summer of 1932. [according to the Golden Book of California University of California, 1937, Jane Younger, Berkeley, graduated from UC Berkeley, class of 1932, Bachelor’s Degree in social work.] When I was in high school I went abroad with the family for a year. College work was interupted [sic] the end of the third year by a fall from a horse which caused concussion of the brain and effects similar to a nervous breakdown which delayed mg return for two years. After finishing college my mother and I took a trip to the Orient, planning to continue on to Europe. Instead we returned to Shanghai where I married a man whom I bad previously met in Berkeley. [Bjorn Ake Hartman, according to Donald McKenzie’s “Younger Descendancy Chart, August 19, 1996; according to the Golden Book of California University of California, 1937, B. Oke Hartman, Shanghai China, UC Berkeley, class of 1928 {did not graduate}] My mother then returned to the United States. After a year of marriage my husband and I separated, I returning to California where I began to look for some permanent work. I entered the Social Service Curriculum the fall of 1934 until May 1935. I worked the fall of that year through January 1936. I audited courses at the University until obtaining further work for a month from April to May.

My mother and father were married in Santa Cruz where they had both been brought up. My father, an attorney, tended to drink and also had a difficult disposition to live with. My mother then moved to Berkeley in hopes that the change of environment might help, but my father remained in Santa Cruz, making fewer and fewer visits. He continued to live with his mother. We were never told of these difficulties as children and would always see our father on our frequent visits to our grandparents, our parents maintaining friendly relations.

The family consisted of my father and mother, a sister Ruth two brothers, Donald and Bruce, and myself. I saw little of my father and always felt more a matter of duty rather than any real affection for him. I never knew whether be was really fond of me or not. My brothers saw more of him and formed a closer bond although they found him difficult to live with. He died about a year ago.

My mother is an active person who tends to be dominating unless she feels inferior to her associates. She is absolutely devoted to her children and home though keeps up with outside activities, especially world affairs and politics, though playing no active part. She never felt that she was fully able to cope with the boys and tended to favor me as the baby of the family. This has increased in recent years, with my illness for a year or so which gave her the opportunity of waiting on me band and foot, and the fact of the other children getting married off. She is greatly concerned with my happiness and keeps regretting that I don’t show her more display of affection. I have never been demonstrative toward other women and probably have a certain feeling that if I were affectionate it would only increase my mother’s devotion. I probably am often selfish and inconsiderate towards her, at least in comparison to her consideration for me.

My brother, Bruce, who is a year older than I, is married with two children and now living with my mother with his family until be finishes the bar examinations, having been attending law school the last few years. He has suffered from an inferiority complex which is probably partly the result of my mother’s favoring me. She never had confidence that he would ever finish anything. He is slow in acting but has a good mind, a warm nature, is sensitive, and has an excellent sense of humor. We were always fond of one another and were bought up together, being so close of an age.

My older brother, Donald, is married and practicing law in Santa Cruz. He is an extremely honest, reliable person with a great deal of drive but I have never been really fond of him because of his dominating attitude, his sarcasm, and belittling sense of humor. Both be and my other brother married attractive fine girls.

My sister, Ruth, who is seven years older than I, helped look after me as a child. We are very fond of one another though haven’t seen as much of each other since she has been married. There is a great family loyalty and feeling of affection in the family. We thoroughly enjoy our annual birthday dinners and Christmas celebrations together.

My marriage was upon rather short acquaintance but it was a question of getting married at the time or waiting two years and we both thought it was worth the gamble. I was not fully in love at the time but admired my husband and felt he was the type I would like to marry. I was also probably glad of the opportunity of getting away from home and maternal solicitude. My husband, Oke, was born in Europe of foreign-born parents, but brought up in California. He was the youngest of four children, was exceedingly shy and sensitive as a child and couldn’t stand his older brother’s teasing. He was devoted to his mother and his oldest sister. The family later moved to the Orient and he later joined them. After his mother’s death and father’s return to this country he had his own apartment with two servants. He was a bit homesick at the time that we met and idealized me, believing that I was far more sophisticated and independent that I was. He felt that a husband and wife should be entirely independent, with different interests and leading their own lives. Although he had felt that he was very much in love with me, he soon found that it had been an infatuation and realized that he wanted to be free. He had previously tried sharing the apartment with another man and found it impossible. I had the feeling that I was in his house and wasn’t able to even move one piece of furniture because of his and the servants attitude. My husband did remark that he could get along without his wife but never without this special servant whom he thought was quite perfect.

At the beginning I suggested that I try some of the cooking or at least the bossing of the servant and planning of the meals but was told that I would only spoil him. My husband was a very charming host and liked to entertain and have everything served perfectly. We never had any fights but just found that I had fallen in love with him, and he out of love with me. I was determined to stick it out for a year during which time we merely shared the same apartment, although we entertained guests together and never gave any hint of our difficulties to the outside world. When I finally decided to leave I wanted to go to Europe to live for at least a year, and certainly not return to California yet, but due to constant and insistent cables from my mother, I returned to California, also thinking that my husband might change his attitude after I left. [Divorced, March, 1933, according to Donald McKenzie’s “Younger Descendancy Chart, August 19, 1996]

I decided to stay in California and looked around for some permanent work, deciding to take the graduate course in Social Service. I learned at the end of the semester that I had not done satisfactorily in my field work but could still continue the course. I hadn’t been conscious of any conflicts but thought that it might have been due to a final settling in my own mind regarding my marital affairs. The next semester I did very well as far as grades were concerned and was told that the field work had been good. This was with a smaller agency doing work with and for children. That fall I worked for the S.E.R.A. in Oakland where I supposed that I was doing adequate work, having received no criticisms but was finally let off after there had been drastic cuts in the staff. I have never felt that I did exceptional or brilliant work, never feeling capable of such in any line. A couple of months later I was finally able to get a report on my work in which it was stated, (as well as I can remember), and possibly with my own interpretations, that I did take an interest in people but tended to get a vicarious pleasure out of their problems. I could get information and all that was required of a certain case but didn’t make effective use of the material. I had difficulty organizing my work and seemed to have emotional conflicts within myself, and had not matured emotionally.

Later in the spring I was given a month’s appointment in San Francisco to fill in between two other people’s jobs. My immediate superior said that due to drastic cuts at that time that there would be no further positions open at the time, and that I had caught on exceedingly well with the red tape and clerical work. However I later learned that I would have been reappointed if my work had been satisfactory but my supervisor had felt that there had been conflicts within me - I was not suitable. On further inquiry it was stated that I had been good at recording information which obtained in detail but it was felt that I was not suited for social service work and might do better at some work like newspaper work where one pushes oneself forward. It was felt I allowed too much personal play, thinking too much of myself, although I was willing to work hard.

In general I tend to be slow, practical and have to work hard for anything that I get. I find it far easier to act than to think and tend [to] use my spare time doing things and seeing people rather than reading. I enjoy the company of men but really treasure my friendships with girls more, regarding them as more permanent. I am usually slow at making friends, most of my friends being of many years standing, yet enjoy meeting people and making new a[c]quaintances. I have been spoiled by my mother and I now never bother doing much of anything around the house, knowing she will always do it anyway. We usually have at least a part time servant, but the few times that I have tried doing the cooking my mother has always come in and taken it over despite my protests, so I no longer make further attempts. I am very fond of dogs, finding that they are the same type of company as old friends, and can be companionable without the feeling of the necessity of constantly entertaining or talking to them. I also like horses and riding and the out-of-doors. ###