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Autobiographical Material


Why autobiographical “material” rather than an “autobiography”? Because there is no autobiography – at least not in the sense of a single volume covering the first 87 years of my life.

There have been the occasional starts of one, and single pieces of some relevance to portions of that life. They are listed below.

— Nicholas Johnson, Iowa City, Iowa, April 25, 2022

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The Catfish Solution Memoir, The last book (as of 2022) was titled Catfish Solution (2019). It focuses on the Washington years, including several selections from FCC dissenting opinions. However, these excerpts also provide material from 1934 to 1974, as the “chapter” headings indicate:
Chapter One: Educating a Dissenter: The Early Years
Chapter Two: The Law: Training and Practice
Chapter Three: At Sea in Washington: The Maritime Administration
Chapter Five: First Impressions: “There Ain’t No New Post Office Building”
(Chapter Four: Where Have All the Taxes Gone? Subgovernments in Washington, though an interesting explanation of how and why Washington works, contains little to no “autobiographical material.”)

Stops Along the Way” (2014) is another start at autobiography, never completed. [As above, needs post/link; your email to me 191205] As with Catfish , the chapter headings will give a sense of the content:
Chapter One: In the Beginning: From Nothing to America, 14 Billion B.C.-1850
Chapter Two: Johnson, Tarnström, Bockwoldt, Watke: Sweden and Germany, 1850-1900
Chapter Three: Mother and Dad From Farm to College: Kansas and Iowa, 100-1934
Chapter Four: Little Nicky Johnson: Iowa City, 1934-1941
Chapter Five: School Days: Iowa City, 1941-1952

First Home (approximately 1937-1941)
“Lawn Mowing,” June 30, 1998, https://www.nicholasjohnson.org/rcntpubl/lawnmowr.html This piece, created in response to a writing assignment in a nonfiction writing program, contains many recollections about life as a three to six-year-old in the 1930s (414 Brown Street, Iowa City). Though technically my second home – the first being a house at 1729 East Court Street (still standing in 2022) – it’s the first for which there are memories.

Melrose Court
“The University of Iowa and the Historic Melrose Neighborhood,” May 17, 2004, https://www.nicholasjohnson.org/UIMelros/ In 1941 the family moved to 508 Melrose Court. This page provides links to maps (starting with 1854) and aerial photos of the neighborhood, and a 1913 photo of that house.

Willis Weber (approximately 1941-1949)
“In Memoriam: Willis Weber,” FromDC2Iowa, Nov. 5, 2006, https://fromdc2iowa.blogspot.com/2006/11/in-memoriam-willis-weber.html
This blog post is included because the bulk of it is a description of life in the Melrose Court neighborhood during these pre-high school years.

General Semantics (approximately 1941-1957)
“General Semantics: The Next Generation,” Alfred Korzybski Memorial Lecture, November 3, 1995, General Semantics Bulletin, pp. 22-26, including notes 1-40 (of pp. 22-44, notes 1-80) , https://www.nicholasjohnson.org/rcntpubl/korzyb.html
This portion of the article/lecture is included in this list because of the impact general semantics had on my early life, as the son of one of its founders.

University High School (approximately 1948-1952)
“The Last Commencement Address: The U High Idea,” June 1, 1972, https://www.nicholasjohnson.org/writing/lastcmns.html This speech is included because of the significant and formative years of high school. The school was closed following this talk.

“The Haefner Award,” June 7, 2002, https://www.nicholasjohnson.org/haefner/ Dr. John Haefner played a major role in shaping the life I subsequently lived. This webpage provides some insight into that influence.

Influential Adults (approximately 1948-1952)
“Everything We Say, Do is a Lesson,” Iowa City Press-Citizen, “Opinion,” July 20, 1999, p. 13A, https://www.nicholasjohnson.org/SchBoard/Other/icpc0720.html
The first portion of this column contains brief references to adults who helped me along the way.