Gallun Pierces Center Meaning, Wants to See Sides Of Mountain
by Will Hertzberg
Eleven years ago Mr. Robert Gallun was sitting behind a desk polishing eggs in a Northern California chicken farm. Today he lacks only one more quarter to receive his Ph.D. in Spanish and is currently associate professor of Spanish, at Santa Barbara City College.
Mr. Gallun, an only child born in Chicago in 1935, remembers clearly his early education.
“At age 5 we moved to a small town just west of Chicago,” he said. “The school facilities were terrible but I think they had some of the most competent teachers in the teaching profession.”
After graduating from high school in that same town, Gallun attended Drake University for one year before transferring to Northwestern University where he received his B.A. in Spanish in 1957.
Fed-up with school, he headed west for California to escape the boredom.
Arriving in San Francisco, Mr. Gallun remembers well pounding the pavement looking for jobs. “I must have walked the streets for two months looking for a job,” he said. “But everywhere I went I got the same answer from people: ‘But you have a college education, you can’t take a job like this.’ In the meantime I was starving.”
For two or three weeks he held a position with the Commercial Credit Corporation, but lost the job when the company got draft conscious. A few weeks later Mr. Gallun saw an advertisement in the newspaper stating that there was a new guest ranch being developed in the Big Sur area and they needed someone to work up to a management position.
“Somehow it never quite turned out to be a guest ranch,” Gallun said. “Instead it became a chicken farm and I had the egg route to Pismo Beach!”
Mr. Gallu recalled how beautiful Big Sur was at that time and how it was the artist colony of the world, filled with friendly people. One of his most enjoyable endeavors while there was participating in the Big Sur Revue, a musical workshop.
After two years at the chicken farm, Mr. Gallun returned to Northwestern University, where he catalogued all the Spanish plays in the library. After six months in the library he received a government grant to Stanford to do graduate work in Spanish and French.
“I wanted to get a Ph.D. at Stanford but the school and the atmosphere, including the instructors, was so neurotic and back-biting that teachers were leaving the school like flies,” Gallun said.
Mr. Gallun did get his teaching credential in Spanish and began his teaching career at a junior high school in the black section of East Palo Alto. The following year he got a teaching job in Felton, a small town of 6,000 near Santa Cruz.
In 1963 a job opening was available at SBCC in the field of French and Spanish. Mr. Gallun flew down and was soon hired.
The 6 foot, 1 inch, 180-pound Gallun, smartly dressed in a corduroy jacket, sportshirt and ascot, crossed his legs under him and lit up another cigaret [sic] as the subject turned to travel.
“One of the most marvelous experiences of my life was when I was off Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, in a motor launch during the beginnings of a tropical storm,” Mr. Gallun said.
“Canada also is a great place for a vacation,” he said. “There is a natural aspect about Canada. Its natural setting is marvelous for hiking and fishing and it is a great feeling to know that there is no other human for 20, maybe 50 miles.”
Swimming, skiing, ice skating and hiking are a few of Mr. Gillun’s favorite forms of relaxation and exercise.
“I love to walk up trails,” he said. “But I hate people who see the top of the mountain as a goal and miss everything along the way. When I get to the top I like to know that I’ve the sides of the mountain as well as the top. It is then that I can really enjoy the view.”
Mr. Gallun finds great communication through music of all types from classical to rock and is always open to new musical experiences.
“Unfortunately, most of the really great music is sung in a foreign language or is too subtle for people in the United States to appreciate,” said Mr. Gallun.
As an instructor at SBCC who has taught both French and Spanish, Mr. Gallun feels that there are too many students just floating along.
“At times it’s almost a baby-sitting situation and some of the students are just not ready to be turned on to anything educational,” he said.
“In order to teach a subject matter well,” said Gallun, “You first have to have ability to integrate the subject matter with life itself and then give the student more personal attention.
“It’s unbelievable in this country that the American people spend more money each year on pets than they do on education! It’s time that the American public lost its materialism and false values!”
War to Mr. Gallun is total tragedy. He believes it to be immoral and that when one compares national pride with death as far as seriousness goes, national pride loses. He also feels that there is going to be more trouble in Latin America due to the fact that the United States is supporting the dictatorship there.
To have a complete and useful awareness of life Mr. Gallun feels that a person cannot be pre-occupied with details or side issues because his mid will become clouded.
“My big issue in life is to take it as a whole and look at which is the best way to live,” said Mr. Gallun. “I want to make progress, see clearly, and then choose the best way from pain and toward bliss. Today too many people live in a confused state; I’m trying to pierce into the center of meaning.”
Mr. Gallun feels, as did Thoreau, that people today are leading lives of quiet desperation. He commented on how people today feel that there is happiness in mental agitation.
“I’m strange to many people,” said Mr. Gallun. “I feel that worldly life does not provide all aspects of life. By worldly life I mean the social life. This world is not permanent.
“I don’t care whether the chains that bind a person are golden or not, they still chafe. It takes real guts to be free.”
The Channels, Vo. XII, No. 3, Friday, September 25, 1970, p. 5