1969 has afforded me much to write about, allowing me to revisit my year as a freshman
at Rhode Island College yet once
more. The summer prior to, my mother bequeathed me her '66 blue Chevy Nova coupe fully
loaded, undoctored save for my touch of baby moon hubcaps. The
price for regular gasoline was $.35 per gallon in '69 so cruisin'
to Scarborough Beach nearly every
day that summer was quite lucrative. Life was grand and I was tanned from
slathering a high octane tincture of baby oil. What we didn't know about collapsing
collagen or skin cancer didn't kill us.
past the freshman induction ceremony in Roberts Auditorium serenaded by The Youngbloods'
Get Together, I'd say
bubblegum Sugar Sugar by the
Archies pretty much characterized my first semester as a full-fledged member of "the
10 seemed to be separate and apart from the political and social issues brewing
into a tempest, i.e. the first draft lottery since 1942, the growing movement against the
Vietnam War, women's equality, and Ted Kennedy's Chappaquiddick plunge to cite a
Division 10 was just one of
the ensembles of students the college threw together for the first semester--a Rat Pack
hell-bent on becoming elementary school teachers at the end of four years.
We attended most classes together, and hung out with each other. I still can
recall most faces and the names to match: Phyllis, Denise, Leslie, Pam, Paula, Pat, Eileen,
Linda, Gary, Leo, John, and John. The guys were definitely in a minority in both the
division and on campus of primarily a teacher's college with only a smattering of
buildings at the time. Eileen had a breakdown halfway through but returned. Paula
invited all of us to her bridal shower. Gary had trouble
staying awake in class because he worked the night shift to defray the cost of
never forget Biology 101, a course where the final was a televised exam. The test had
to be scrapped because through the snowy reception no one could determine the gender of a
crayfish/ rock lobster. Though the prof held the lobster by the back of its carapace with the
tail facing its receptive audience, it was impossible to detect small pincers on
the rear pair of legs to render a "female" verdict.
Division 10 often made a
pilgrimage in separate cars to Tweets Balzano's restaurant in Bristol when it was a
chicken coop. We could spread out over the length of a banquet table covered by a red
and white checked tablecloth and order spaghetti and meatballs by the pound. Alas, when
the first semester ended and many of us diversified, we scattered and went our separate ways, never
breaking bread again. By the end of 1969, you would have been the man in
the moon not to be sucked into the most pressing political and social issues of our
time. ...Or perchance, a rock lobster...
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