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"I can't think of anything duller than having just one career.'

September 13, 1987|Kathie Bozanich

Swede Throneson, 70, decided at a young age that there would be nothing more boring than staying in one job for his whole life. Throneson, a Del Mar resident since 1959 and a San Diego area resident since the early 1920s, served in the Marine Corps from 1940 until 1960. Three months after his retirement from the military, he stepped into an elementary-school classroom in San Diego and began his 20-year teaching career. He retired from teaching in 1976, and soon after began the work that would lead to his present role as president of the Del Mar Historical Society. He was interviewed in his Del Mar office by Times staff writer Kathie Bozanich and photographed by staff photographer Bob Grieser.

My father was Navy and we moved to San Diego in 1921. I went to a couple of different high schools here, and then got a scholarship to Pomona College. I ended up graduating from there in 1939.

1939 was the height of the Depression. I knocked on every door in San Diego, but there were no jobs. Any kind of job, pumping gas, I didn't give a damn. I just wanted to get a job. Finally, I went to San Francisco. I had a round-trip ticket and enough money to last me two days. By virtue of my college education, I got a job as a stock boy in bedding in a department store in San Francisco.

Then in 1940, I could see the writing on the wall and I knew that the war was coming. I applied for the Marine Corps and was called to duty in November of 1940. We were in Iceland when Pearl Harbor happened, but eventually I was sent out to the Midway Islands and New Zealand, among other places.

When I came back stateside (after the war), I couldn't stand it. I volunteered to go back in. I was sent to China for a while, then Back East. I got into an outfit that sent training teams out, and I ended up spending a lot of time in Japan and some time in Korea. That's where I finished up my (military) career.

I missed my retirement parade because I was going to school. I got into this program for people who had been out of college for a long time, and got my teaching credential. So I retired in June of '60, and then in September I opened the door and 35 kids walked in my classroom.

I taught 20 years and that was enough. One day I went to school and I said, "What the hell am I doing with all these little kids?" Fortunately, I was in a position where I could quit.

I didn't get married until 1953. I came into town (San Diego) and some friends of mine knew this gal. After a year of courting, as they say, we got married. She had two boys from a previous marriage, and while I was in Korea we adopted a Korean-American child.

I've always known and loved Del Mar. I do a lot of body surfing, and I used to come out here and surf. During the war, when I was at Pendleton, I would make the run down to San Diego and I always stopped at the hotel here. It had a great bar.

At one point my wife and I were living in Oceanside. All our friends were down in San Diego, so we'd always be driving back and forth. We used to kid around, saying, "Boy, if we lived in Del Mar, we'd be home by now." When the time came to get a piece of property, put down some roots, this is where we looked.

What I'm doing now, I don't know if you could call it civic pride. I think it's just intellectual curiosity. I have to admit I'm a bit of a ham. When we put up these exhibits, I get a big bang out of asking people, "Is there anything here that you're curious about?" and then I'll tell them all I know about it.

In my senior year of college a speech contest came up. It didn't really interest except there was a cash prize, and that did interest me. I got this talk together called "Not to Make a Living, But to Make a Life Worth Living," based on an article I saw in the Saturday Evening Post. I guess that's been a philosophy I've followed ever since. I do feel you have to take the time to do a lot of things, including smelling the roses. I just can't think of anything duller than going through life in one career.

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