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(Guest Post) John Alvon Glauser: Face to Face with History

By: Michelle Glauser - October 06, 2009

Michelle Glauser, a longtime participant at Keepa, is a young Mormon American woman living in Germany. I’ve long read her blog, Circles and Dots and Other Distractions, which is a riot of activity — she may be based in Leipzig, but she’s just as apt to be blogging about her trip through Turkey, or Switzerland, or Poland, as she is to be describing life as an ex-pat in a German university. Her recent master’s thesis is a serious study of the surprising meanings of blogging, especially mommy blogging.

Michelle offered to share here these extraordinary clips of an interview conducted by her of her 96-year-old great uncle Al Glauser, allowing us to come face to face with a witness of history. More detail about his life can be found at Michelle’s cross-posted interview on her blog.

My great uncle, John Alvon Glauser, was born in 1913. He is the oldest of the seven children of John and Lena Glauser, both Swiss immigrants who met and married in Logan, Utah. Lena’s maiden name was von Niederhausern, resulting in the “von” in “Alvon” (as a fun side story, Lena gave my Grandpa the letter N without a period or anything for his middle name since “Niederhausern” was so long–when people asked what it stood for, he always said “nothing” with a serious face). Al served a mission in Switzerland and Germany from 1934 to 1937. Because his stories of his mission have fascinated me for years, I felt like someone needed to record the story. As a result, last time I was in Salt Lake, I drove up to his house and recorded this video (the person asking questions and responding now and then is yours truly).

Al’s love for his mission led him to meet up with many old mission companions for years in a group they called “The Forty-Niners” (after the address of their mission home). After his mission, Uncle Al found and married the lovely pianist and organist Beverly Brown, who had thought he would never call her again after their first date. They had two daughters, Shirley and Mitzi. With his brother, Reed, my grandpa, he continued the business his dad had started, Egg Products. After retirement, he was invited into the Dirty Shirts Club (see the July 12, 2006 issue of the Salt Lake Tribune — at that time, the average age was 84.8 in this club that golfs and bowls together on Wednesdays). In the last several years, Al has volunteered at LDS Hospital, where he drives cancer patients to their appointments in a golf cart. Having turned 96 on September 19th, he has now outlived all six of his younger siblings and keeps people around him laughing with the jokes he memorizes.

The videos:

Oberammergau

.

The Berlin Olympics, Hitler and Mussolini

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9 Comments »

  1. What a wonderful man, what a memory he has! He talks about those events as if they were yesterday, and with such a winning manner.

    Imagine still having a signed programme from the 300th anniversary of the Passion Play- as a hoarder myself, that resonated even more than seeing Owens, Hitler and Mussolini!

    Thanks so much, Ardis and Michelle.

    Comment by Anne (U.K) — October 6, 2009 @ 7:35 am

  2. Michelle: This is a great treasure. His memory is incredible. The history he personally witnessed is amazing! I am very appreciative of his comments on his mission in the Third Reich, a topic that is near and dear to me. I would certainly enjoy reading more of your interview with him. Thank you so much.

    Comment by Steve C. — October 6, 2009 @ 7:52 am

  3. This is terrific, Michelle! Thank you. And thanks to your Uncle John for having a great memory.

    Along with all the rest, kudos to him for remembering “das Fenster, der Tisch, die Tür”–I’m more like that other guy who couldn’t ever keep those things straight.

    Comment by Mark B. — October 6, 2009 @ 7:53 am

  4. After reading this, I just couldn’t stand it, so I dug out my copies of the Swiss-German mission manuscript history and a few other documents to see if I could find anything to add to this. In July, 1936, President Kelly of the Swiss-German mission sent a circular to the missionaries in which he told them not to request to go to the Olympic games. The Olypics were held in Berlin which was in the German-Austrian mission. So apparently, John was one of the few who did get to travel to Berlin for the event. John Glauser also mentioned being a missionary in Durlach early on in his mission. In February, 1936, the Durlach branch was dissolved because of discord among the members. I wonder if he had seen anything in the branch that would have led to its closure. In my quick perusal of mission records I did not see John’s name mentioned. That could mean several things. I transcribed the records and, because of time considerations, had to pick the most important information for my research and might not have included something about him. It could also mean that nothing bad happened to him (like getting arrested by the secret police) or that he stayed out of trouble.

    Anyway, very interesting post. I’d still like to see more of the interviews. Thanks for sharing this with us.

    Comment by Steve C. — October 6, 2009 @ 10:43 am

  5. Very nice interview. Thank you for sharing it with us. What an interesting set of experiences, and what a treasure for the family to have these interviews.

    Comment by Researcher — October 6, 2009 @ 12:56 pm

  6. Hi Cous! Lena von Niederhausern Glauser is my great aunt. Her brother Johannes is my grandfather, my mother’s father. Until the reunions were separated a few years ago, we joined the Glausers at the Rudolph von Niederhausern reunion every year.

    Thank you for the video. I will share it with my mother and other family members.

    [Sorry for the delay in posting, Clair. You were caught in the spam filter for some unknown reason. -- Ardis]

    Comment by Clair — October 7, 2009 @ 8:03 am

  7. Michelle,
    When I first moved to Cache Valley, my husband and I loved going to lunch at Glauser’s restaurant in Logan. I enjoyed listening to your interview with John.

    Comment by Maurine — October 8, 2009 @ 11:27 pm

  8. Thanks everyone! I was especially interested to hear about Steve’s research that suggested missionaries were not to go to the Olympics. I guess I will have to ask Uncle Al about that next time I get the chance.

    Comment by Michelle Glauser — October 10, 2009 @ 7:42 am

  9. Awesome, Michelle! Now if you would just come back home more often…

    Comment by MCQ — October 13, 2009 @ 12:51 am

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