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Friday, January 11, 2013

THE SCHOLARSHIP KID

After my last post, my sister, Marcy, who turned 60 the other day, called. She h ,"No. it taught me a great lesson in achieving goals." In fact, not only was she in the same predicament as I was (my father had passed away the year she entered OSU), but she, too, needed scholarships,had to  take on odd jobs, and exercise frugality while in school. And as a divorced mom, she quit retailing to earn a master's degree in education to support her family. Today she is a special ed teacher in my old high school, and I give her a great deal of credit. Her situation wasn't predictable, but mine was.

I knew,  as a high school junior, I needed some kind of aid, so I applied for journalism scholarships at both Northwestern's Medill School and Ohio State. Columbia and Missouri also had top ranked J-schools, but I couldn't afford the travel costs. Both applications were declined, and  I moved to "Plan B", which was to apply for  Dairy Technology scholarships at Michigan and OSU. I celebrated when I received notification from Columbus that I had been awarded a two-year tuition-only scholarship. At that time, as a state school, the tuition for in-state students was $53 a quarter. If you do the math, it totaled $318, but it was enough for me to begin my journey. No one ever noticed, but I never took a dairy tech course in my first two years, as I concentrated on liberal art studies.

 In retrospect, I now know that I was totally ill-prepared for the trip south. A  friend's father drove us and  our meager belongings to Columbus. None of us were sure if we could hack it in college. For the most part, we were lower middle class kids. Jerry Millman, a friend from middle and high school used to joke, I was so poor, my luggage were two shopping bags from Junta's., the local supermarket.at home." Jerry passed away two years ago, but I'll never forget that line.None of us had arranged housing and our first task was to find rooms I  remember closing out my bank account, totaling $220,earned in summers at the Post Office. and after graduating high school. I thought that was enough to get me through the Spring quarter of 1953. It wasn't I had a budge,t and estimated that I'd have to earn $25 a week to make it to the end of the quarter.

None of us anticipated the fraternity rush week barrage during our orientation period. There were five major Jewish frats. I didn't know how, but they had identified our group immediately, and we were enticed with "booze and food" at no charge."It's  great to be wanted," we'd tell each other. One of our group had a  brother at Tau Epsilon Pi, and some us us stayed there the first two nights.  Jerry Millman had a brother-in-law to be at Alpha Epsilon Pi and he and I  decided to pledge. The primary reason for me was simple. They owned an annex next to the fraternity house, with  affordable rent and the lowest we could find. I confided in a couple of my new friends about my financial situation, and a senior found me a job in the kitchen of a sorority house washing pots and pans for meals. I also umpired intramural baseball games for $5 a shot.  And then I discovered the mother load. The  Psych Department paid students $10 to take psychological tests. Of course I had to plan them around my course schedule, but the money was like cold.

One of the biggest mistakes I made the first quarter was scheduling 21 credits. I, later, found out that 16 or 17 course credits was the norm. With work and studies, I had little spare time and my grades were not up to my usual standard. I went through Hell Week, became an "active member" of the fraternity. In the fall quarter I was elected Steward, the guy who runs the kitchen and prepares the  menus with the cook and her assistant. The major perk of that job was that I didn't have to pay for meals. My grades rose to a 3.5 average, and I enjoyed my first season of Buckeye football.

I worked summers and continued to ref intramural football and basketball games. I can't estimate the number of psych tests I took, and I never saw any of the results. My guess is that it was a subliminal way of distributing cash to needy students. Thanks Mr. Obama. In the fall of 1954, I met the love of my life, Carol Lennard, in Charberts, a local hamburger hangout. The following fall Joann Turoff, Jerry's high school sweetheart  came to school,  He and I were still financially challenged, so when the four of us would go out to  dinner, the girls would slip their share of the tab under the table. We never paid them back, but once we got married, Joann and Carol got it all back. I declared journalism my major and surprised not a soul. I began writing on  the sports desk for The Lantern, the campus almost daily...published Monday through Friday...and  in the fall quarter of 1955 was named sports editor, a job that answered all of my financial needs for the remainder of my time at Ohio State. (To be continued in Monday's blog.)