ESSAY 3 – College  

 

The University of Kansas City, as you know had a small Liberal Arts college at the time I attended it.  Clarence Decker was the person who was primarily responsible for the University.  He and his wife conceived of the school and raised the funds.  His idea was that this school would be run in a fashion similar to the University of Chicago.  The basic concept was that if one is well educated in basic subjects they could use that foundation as a jumping off place to any area of knowledge.  So students had to have courses in Social Studies, Sciences (physics, biology, chemistry and the like), English, international cultures or languages, History (American and World), Arts (Fine Arts and Music) and Physical Educaton.  These were to take up most of the first two years of college. 

 

I had done well enough in the first couple of years to have a good grade point average.  For some reason I do not remember at all – my parents and I decided I should leave UKC, and matriculate at Leland Stanford University in Palo Alto, California.  And so I sent an application there, and was accepted as a student in good standing.  Leland Stanford was a prestigious University in the Western part of the United States.  It was considered a University of major importance in the country.  It was much larger than UKC. 

 

Well, the long and short of it is that I did not do well.  I don’t know all the reasons I did not do well, but certainly one of them was the size of the school.  I had known almost everyone at the Liberal Arts school of UKC, and I knew no one at Stanford.  At UKC, I had had access to areas of learning that were only open to a very few.  I was just someone else at Stanford – just one other person in the school.  There were no places where I could continue learning about more advanced psychological subjects – even in the psychology department.  I was just a small fish in a very large pond.
 

Then too I had spent time in California in the years before this, and had emotional baggage that had more influence over me than I realized consciously at the time.  California was where an aunt and uncle lived, and I had spent time with them some summers living at the Fairmont Hotel in their suite of permanent rooms, and had spent time on one of their ranches rounding up cattle and riding around on horseback.  California was where my mother, sister and I went on a 12 day horseback trip up Mt. Whitney.  And California was where my father, mother, and I were when I heard of my sister’s serious illness (she was in Italy), and where I was a few days later when I heard of her death.  And, although I did not know it at the time, my father had wanted to attend Stanford when he was first married, and could not afford it.  I am sure he was hoping I could take his place there, and do well.

 

There is no question that all of these conditions worked together to make me feel ill at ease in Palo Alto in the very large school.  As I think back on the time I realize how very lonely and isolated I felt.  I had enjoyed the freedom I had at UKC.  The freedom of movement included an academic freedom.  A freedom to explore any area of knowledge that I wanted to explore.  As I have described in other places, my area of special interest was psychology, and I had explored areas well past those usually afforded persons of my academic level. 

 

I lived in a 1 room apartment off campus, and rode to school on a three wheeled motor scooter.  It was a motor scooter with a sidecar where I could put my books or packages.  It did not snow there, so the open motor scooter was ok that way, but Palo Alto (near San Francisco) gets way more than its share of rain.  Therefore some days I got pretty wet. I frequently had a large green poncho on to protect me from the rain.  Again, I did not have a lot of friends, but I ate inside at the same drive-in restaurant many days a week, and would always order a ½ dozen eggs over easy.  I got to know the waitress pretty well.  She was about 10 years older than I, and was in a common law marital relationship.  She had been for about 10 years.  Common law marriages were legal in California then, but not in all states.  I had never met a person who so openly stated her relationship before.  I was attentive, and thereby increased my knowledge of social events.
 
So, I must have sort-of hibernated there at Stanford.  I learned several things, however.  For one thing I learned I did not like very large schools such as Stanford.   At every turn I felt worse and more constrained and friendless there.  I don’t want to overstate the friendless part.  I had never had many friends.  Rather I always have been sort of a loaner except for a guy I grew up with – a guy who lived across the street from me from the year I turned 6. His name is Burnham Gibbons.  He and I were off and on again friends.  We would be inseparable for a year or so, and then get mad at each other and not talk for a year.  But somehow, I couldn’t find anyone around with whom I had a good time chatting even for a few minutes.  So I withdrew from the school and contacts and slept a lot.

 

That leads me to another thing I learned there.  If you sleep to at least 9AM each day, it is a mistake to enroll in an 8AM class.

 

It was social psychology.  I was supposed to be there at 8 and I think I managed to get there at that hour perhaps 3 times in the quarter I was enrolled in that class.  So, I failed a psychology class!  (Later when I returned to UKC, I retook social psychology, so I could redeem myself and received an A.)  It is much easier to get good grades when you at least hear the lecture.

 

As one can see, my going to Stanford was a mistake.  It was a big mistake.  I did miserably there, and wasted time and money.  I am just not sure why I went there at all.  I know at the time it seemed like that was a good idea, but I can not remember at all what could have been seen as good about it. 

 

And so I returned to UKC.  Stanford was on a quarter system whereas UKC and most other schools in America were on a semester system.  This left me with several weeks or a month or so before I could again enroll in school.  Once again my mind is hazy about exact time and order of events.  But I will report what I do remember even if the order of events is not precise or exactly accurate.

 

Coming back from Stanford, I began a different sort of life style, and my life headed into a number of different avenues.  When I returned to the University, I associated much more with other undergraduate students, students who were not psychology majors. In fact, I do not remember having any psychology majors as friends.  New people were at the University.  Don Gibson had arrived from a local Negro High School along with several classmates.  The Swope Park swimming pool incident had occurred in my absence.  That group was lead by a graduate student who I had known well before I left, and I began to hang around with them more.   I became more involved in school politics, more interested in the school newspaper, and in the life of the undergraduate student.  I was 21 the summer of 1952.  I had not had alcohol much before I was 21, but in that year I began to drink, and  I used to party quite a bit.  I would often become too inebriated.

 

Along with developing a new group of companions, I became much more involved with Mrs. Cockefair’s Great Books groups, and became an active leader of Great Books discussion groups.  I also had a chance to develop more skills in the field of psychology – a double chance if you will.  One opportunity that unfolded was to have a 2 ½ year “internship” a day or two a week at a Child Guidance Clinic under the tutelage of Miss Eleanor Pritchard.  Another opportunity was to become a volunteer with the Mental Health Association where I became a guest speaker at many groups on the subject of Mental Health.  Somewhere around this time, I was introduced to a young lady named Martha Sue McNish with whom I immediately fell in love, at the first minute I saw her.

 

But, that is enough for now.  Each of these areas has its own history and path, so I will explore each layer in more detail at some subsequent time.  But for now it is enough to know that while each had its own path and direction, they all fit to form the three dimensional me.  Each has a contribution to my future life, and some are still of influence upon me in my current daily life.

Fri

13

Nov

2015

Are Languages Products of their Environment?


shutterstock_222422665_151112


DISCOVER MAGAZINE published this very interesting article: 


  Languages Are Products of Their Environments


The characteristics that make each language unique may actually be adaptations to the acoustics of different environments.

0 Comments

Tue

03

Jun

2014

The Case for Reparations

 

The Case for Reparations

 

Two hundred fifty years of slavery. Ninety years of Jim Crow. Sixty years of separate but equal. Thirty-five years of racist housing policy. Until we reckon with our compounding moral debts, America will never be whole.

 

By Ta-Nehisi Coates

May 21, 2014

 


Chapters

  1. I. “So That’s Just One Of My Losses”
  2. II.  “A Difference of Kind, Not Degree”
  3. III. “We Inherit Our Ample Patrimony”
  4. IV. “The Ills That Slavery Frees Us From”
  5. V. The Quiet Plunder
  6. VI. Making The Second Ghetto
  7. VII. “A Lot Of People Fell By The Way”
  8. VIII. “Negro Poverty is not White Poverty”
  9. IX. Toward A New Country
  10. X. “There Will Be No ‘Reparations’ From Germany”
0 Comments

Mon

02

Jun

2014

A Look At 19th Century Children In The USA

PHILADELPHIA — DINNER with your children in 19th-century America often required some self-control. Berry stains in your daughter’s hair? Good for her. Raccoon bites running up your boy’s arms? Bet he had an interesting day.

 

As this year’s summer vacation begins, many parents contemplate how to rein in their kids. But there was a time when Americans pushed in the opposite direction, preserved in Mark Twain’s cat-swinging scamps. Parents back then encouraged kids to get some wildness out of their system, to express the republic’s revolutionary values.

The New York Times

Sunday Review

By JON GRINSPAN MAY 31, 2014

 

A late 19th century family taking a stroll down a set of railroad tracks
A late 19th century family taking a stroll down a set of railroad tracks

American children of the 19th century had a reputation. Returning British visitors reported on American kids who showed no respect, who swore and fought, who appeared — at age 10 — “calling for liquor at the bar, or puffing a cigar in the streets,” as one wrote. There were really no children in 19th-century America, travelers often claimed, only “small stuck-up caricatures of men and women.”

 

This was not a “carefree” nation, too rough-hewed to teach proper manners; adults deliberately chose to express new values by raising “go-ahead” boys and girls. The result mixed democracy and mob rule, assertiveness and cruelty, sudden freedom and strict boundaries. Visitors noted how American fathers would brag that their disobedient children were actually “young republicans,” liberated from old hierarchies. Children were still expected to be deferential to elders, but many were trained to embody their nation’s revolutionary virtues. “The theory of the equality” was present at the ballot box, according to one sympathetic Englishman, but “rampant in the nursery.”

 

Boys, in particular, spent their childhoods in a rowdy outdoor subculture. After age 5 or so they needed little attention from their mothers, but were not big enough to help their fathers work. So until age 10 or 12 they spent much of their time playing or fighting.

 

The writer William Dean Howells recalled his ordinary, violent Ohio childhood, immersed in his loose gang of pals, rarely catching a “glimpse of life much higher than the middle of a man.” Howells’s peers were “always stoning something,” whether friends, rivals or stray dogs. They left a trail of maimed animals behind them, often hurt in sloppy attempts to domesticate wild pets.

 

And though we envision innocents playing with a hoop and a stick, many preferred “mumbletypeg” — a game where two players competed to see who could throw a knife closer to his own foot. Stabbing yourself meant a win by default.

 

Left to their own devices, boys learned an assertive style that shaped their futures. The story of every 19th-century empire builder — Carnegie, Rockefeller, Vanderbilt — seems to begin with a striving 10-year-old. “Boy culture” offered training for the challenges of American manhood and a reprieve before a life of labor.

 

But these unsupervised boys also formed gangs that harassed the mentally ill, the handicapped and racial and ethnic minorities. Boys played an outsize role in the anti-Irish pogroms in 1840s Philadelphia, the brutal New York City draft riots targeting African-Americans during the Civil War and attacks on Chinese laborers in Gilded Age California. These children did not invent the bigotry rampant in white America, but their unrestrained upbringing let them enact what their parents mostly muttered.

 

Their sisters followed a different path. Girls were usually assigned more of their mothers’ tasks. An 8-year-old girl would be expected to help with the wash or other physically demanding tasks, while her brother might simply be too small, too slow or too annoying to drive the plow with his father. But despite their drudgery, 19th-century American girls still found time for tree climbing, bonfire building and waterfall-jumping antics. There were few pretty pink princesses in 19th-century America: Girls were too rowdy and too republican for that.

 

So how did we get from “democratic sucklings” to helicopter parents? Though many point to a rise of parental worrying after the 1970s, this was an incremental change in a movement that began a hundred years earlier.

 

In the last quarter of the 19th century, middle-class parents launched a self-conscious project to protect children. Urban professionals began to focus on children’s vulnerabilities. Well-to-do worriers no longer needed to raise tough dairymaids or cunning newsboys; the changing economy demanded careful managers of businesses or households, and restrained company men, capable of navigating big institutions.

 

Demographics played a role as well: By 1900 American women had half as many children as they did in 1800, and those children were twice as likely to live through infancy as they were in 1850. Ironically, as their children faced fewer dangers, parents worried more about their protection.

 

Instead of seeing boys and girls as capable, clever, knockabout scamps, many reconceived children as vulnerable, weak and naïve. Reformers introduced child labor laws, divided kids by age in school and monitored their play. Jane Addams particularly worked to fit children into the new industrial order, condemning “this stupid experiment of organizing work and failing to organize play.”

 

There was good reason to tame the boys and girls of the 19th century, if only for stray cats’ sake. But somewhere between Jane Addams and Nancy Grace, Americans lost track of their larger goal. Earlier parents raised their kids to express values their society trumpeted.

 

“Precocious” 19th-century troublemakers asserted their parents’ democratic beliefs and fit into an economy that had little use for 8-year-olds but idealized striving, self-made men. Reformers designed their Boy Scouts to meet the demands of the 20th century, teaching organization and rebalancing the relationship between play and work. Both movements agreed, in their didactic ways, that playtime shaped future citizens.

 

Does the overprotected child articulate values we are proud of in 2014? Nothing is easier than judging other peoples’ parenting, but there is a side of contemporary American culture — fearful, litigious, controlling — that we do not brag about but that we reveal in our child rearing, and that runs contrary to our self-image as an open, optimistic nation. Maybe this is why sheltering parents come in for so much easy criticism: A visit to the playground exposes traits we would rather not recognize.

 

There is, however, a saving grace that parents will notice this summer. Kids are harder to guide and shape, as William Dean Howells put it, “than grown people are apt to think.” It is as true today as it was two centuries ago: “Everywhere and always the world of boys is outside of the laws that govern grown-up communities.” Somehow, they’ll manage to go their own way.

 

________________________________

 

A National Endowment for the Humanities fellow at the Massachusetts Historical Society who is writing a book on the role of young people in 19th-century American democracy.

0 Comments

Mon

21

Apr

2014

Investigating Family's Wealth, China's Leader Signals a Change

From The New York Times 

By CHRISTOPHER DREW and JAD MOUAWAD

APRIL 19, 2014

 

HONG KONG — His son landed contracts to sell equipment to state oil fields and thousands of filling stations across China. His son’s mother-in-law held stakes in pipelines and natural gas pumps from Sichuan Province in the west to the southern isle of Hainan. And his sister-in-law, working from one of Beijing’s most prestigious office buildings, invested in mines, property and energy projects.

 

In thousands of pages of corporate documents describing these ventures, the name that never appears is his own: Zhou Yongkang, the formidable Chinese Communist Party leader who served as China’s top security official and the de facto boss of its oil industry.





A visitor at the Zhou family's ancestral graves in Xiqliantou, eastern China.  Intrigue surrounds the family after a spate of arrests.  Sim Chi Yim for the New York Times
A visitor at the Zhou family's ancestral graves in Xiqliantou, eastern China. Intrigue surrounds the family after a spate of arrests. Sim Chi Yim for the New York Times

But President Xi Jinping has targeted Mr. Zhou in an extraordinary corruption inquiry, a first for a Chinese party leader of Mr. Zhou’s rank, and put his family’s extensive business interests in the cross hairs.

 

Even by the cutthroat standards of Chinese politics, it is a bold maneuver. The finances of the families of senior leaders are among the deepest and most politically delicate secrets in China. The party has for years followed a tacit rule that relatives of the elite could prosper from the country’s economic opening, which rewarded loyalty and helped avert rifts in the leadership.

Zhou Family Ties

1 Comments

Fri

13

Nov

2015

Are Languages Products of their Environment?


shutterstock_222422665_151112


DISCOVER MAGAZINE published this very interesting article: 


  Languages Are Products of Their Environments


The characteristics that make each language unique may actually be adaptations to the acoustics of different environments.

0 Comments

Tue

03

Jun

2014

The Case for Reparations

 

The Case for Reparations

 

Two hundred fifty years of slavery. Ninety years of Jim Crow. Sixty years of separate but equal. Thirty-five years of racist housing policy. Until we reckon with our compounding moral debts, America will never be whole.

 

By Ta-Nehisi Coates

May 21, 2014

 


Chapters

  1. I. “So That’s Just One Of My Losses”
  2. II.  “A Difference of Kind, Not Degree”
  3. III. “We Inherit Our Ample Patrimony”
  4. IV. “The Ills That Slavery Frees Us From”
  5. V. The Quiet Plunder
  6. VI. Making The Second Ghetto
  7. VII. “A Lot Of People Fell By The Way”
  8. VIII. “Negro Poverty is not White Poverty”
  9. IX. Toward A New Country
  10. X. “There Will Be No ‘Reparations’ From Germany”
0 Comments

Mon

02

Jun

2014

A Look At 19th Century Children In The USA

PHILADELPHIA — DINNER with your children in 19th-century America often required some self-control. Berry stains in your daughter’s hair? Good for her. Raccoon bites running up your boy’s arms? Bet he had an interesting day.

 

As this year’s summer vacation begins, many parents contemplate how to rein in their kids. But there was a time when Americans pushed in the opposite direction, preserved in Mark Twain’s cat-swinging scamps. Parents back then encouraged kids to get some wildness out of their system, to express the republic’s revolutionary values.

The New York Times

Sunday Review

By JON GRINSPAN MAY 31, 2014

 

A late 19th century family taking a stroll down a set of railroad tracks
A late 19th century family taking a stroll down a set of railroad tracks

Read More 0 Comments

Mon

21

Apr

2014

Investigating Family's Wealth, China's Leader Signals a Change

From The New York Times 

By CHRISTOPHER DREW and JAD MOUAWAD

APRIL 19, 2014

 

HONG KONG — His son landed contracts to sell equipment to state oil fields and thousands of filling stations across China. His son’s mother-in-law held stakes in pipelines and natural gas pumps from Sichuan Province in the west to the southern isle of Hainan. And his sister-in-law, working from one of Beijing’s most prestigious office buildings, invested in mines, property and energy projects.

 

In thousands of pages of corporate documents describing these ventures, the name that never appears is his own: Zhou Yongkang, the formidable Chinese Communist Party leader who served as China’s top security official and the de facto boss of its oil industry.





A visitor at the Zhou family's ancestral graves in Xiqliantou, eastern China.  Intrigue surrounds the family after a spate of arrests.  Sim Chi Yim for the New York Times
A visitor at the Zhou family's ancestral graves in Xiqliantou, eastern China. Intrigue surrounds the family after a spate of arrests. Sim Chi Yim for the New York Times

Read More 1 Comments