During Alan Golacinski's imprisonment in Iran his family tried everything they could imagine to learn how he was being treated. But when they finally got to talk with him early yesterday morning, they found they couldn't bear to ask.
"He didn't talk about how it was, and we didn't want to bring it up. We didn't want to talk about things that would be unpleasant memories for him," Alan's mother, Pearl Golacinski, said from her Silver Spring home.
So she and Alan's two brothers and sisters talked about what they had been doing, how he is now, and what they will all do in the immediate future.
"His first words were, 'How ya doin?'", said brother Mickey Golacinski yesterday.
"He said he was very happy, that he's anxious to see us, he misses us and he can't wait to get together," his mother said. "His voice sounded great and we were very excited. He said he wants to get away and hopefully try to straighten out his life."
Alan Golacinski, 30, was a State Department employe who had just been posted to Tehran with the title of regional security officer when the embassy was captured Nov. 4, 1979.
"We received about 10 letters" during his imprisonment, his mother said, "but there was nothing" about how he was treated.
In her effort to learn more about her son's captivity and enlist support for his release, Pearl Golacinski traveled the world, meeting with Jimmy Carter, French President Valerie Giscard d'Estang, and Pope John Paul II among others.
"A lot of people have told me they would really like to sit down with Alan and talk to him about what it was like over there," said Mickey Golacinski, a marketing manager who lives in New Jersey. "When we get the family together in a seluded place, he'll tell us."
In the meantime his family will await his return here. "He said he was glad we were not coming to Germany," his mother said.
Alan was described by his younger brother Mickey as an "independent" and "strong willed person," who knew what he wanted to do with his life and was happy to be part of the State Department.
"He's the type person who could go through something like this," said Mickey."I don't think he'll have any problems readjusting; he's a lot tougher than others."
Alan had played varsity football at Northwood High School in Silver Spring, graduating from there in 1968 and from the University of Maryland with a degree in law enforcement in 1972. He was stationed in Argentina, Chile and Morocco before going to Iran. He had become engaged to be married to a Miami woman shortly before he went to Tehran.
Not the least of those curious about the details of his life the last 445 days is a growing army of reporters that has laid siege to the Golacinski home.
The Golacinskis had talked with Alan at length during telephone calls at 2:30 a.m. and again at 6 a.m. yesterday. In between, "some lady from Chicago called me to find out how I felt; then there were calls from Canadian radio and Swedish journalists," Pearl Golacinski said.
As of 2 p.m. yesterday she had been unable to sleep for 32 hours -- ever since a reporter awakened her with an erroneous report that her son's release was imminent -- because of a constant stream of congratulations from well-wishers, and inquiries from journalists.
"One reporter came to our door unannounced and said we were rude not to talk with him because we owed it to the world," said Danielle Golacinski, Alan's sister. "That was a bit much."
The Golacinskis nonetheless allowed their home to become an open house for hundreds of wellwishers, neighbors and reporters during a 12-hour party that began with the announcement of the release of the hostages. Champagne flowed and neighbors brought food.
Pearl Golacinksi, between the congratulations Tuesday, said she was not bitter about the way the Carter administration had handled the crisis. "It took time, but thanks to them they [the hostages] are safe; they were smart, they used diplomacy, and I think that saved the lives of the hostages."
At midnight Tuesday, however, Pearl Golacinksi's graciousness toward guests began to be replaced by anxiety about the impending phone calls from her son, and she asked the last of the visitors to leave while she gathered the family around three telephones in the home.
By yesterday afternoon as she was finally falling asleep, yet another reporter called. "I'm so tired," she said. "I just would like to get my life back to normal."