Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Decisions & Frustrations of the 50's II


Study and work – the two goals for what?  The middle class was happy.  Cars, houses, and good times.  A war was going on but it was not a war – we were just killing for the practice.  The politicians were ranting about communism.  They saw red in the dark.  Everyone who spoke out against the government was listed as bad.

Thus began my entry UC Berkeley.  The Chancellor gave a speech at Sather Gate; opening statement to the wild eyed and innocent young people.
            “One third of you will fail.  One third of you will drop out.  One third of you will graduate –some will be outstanding, some will do quite well, and some of you will be mediocre”
That certainly put the pressure on us.  I suspect we fulfilled his jubilant analysis.

I enrolled in the Botany major group.  What a mistake.  Botany 16 was me – 19 years old running around like a flea on a hot skillet in a class with 10 deadbeats – 25 to 30 years old.  Three boring lectures a week and 2-3 hour labs – looking through a microscope and drawing pictures of the inside of plant stems.  The professor had a wet dream over the material he had presented for the last two hundred years.

I played baseball.  What a mistake; it was a disaster.  Clint Evans had just retired and they named the field in his honor.  I got to play for George Wolfman – they named a scoreboard  for him.  That was fitting for an idiot.  The man was a non-communicator.  It was a very sad day when I decided to quit.

Schooling went on day after day.  I managed but it was very difficult.  The one bright spot was English Lit 25, taught by the young vibrant Sears Jayne.  He was being dismissed by the UC because he was on the McCarthy list.  I attended his final lecture at Wheeler Auditorium.  The place was packed.  He spoke for an hour – doing Spanish for Don Quixote, German and French quotes from their renowned literature.  There was not a dry eye in the packed house.  He lowered his voice at the end and quietly it faded out and he turned and walked out.  A thunderous applause followed him.  It was a tremendous pleasure taking his class.

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