QUEENS COLLEGE

It is June of 1955 and a glorious day at Forest Park. Forest Hills High School seniors, all 950 of them are putting their tassels from side of the mortarboard to the other. I am all of 16 years old, the second youngest in my class. Stephen Schuker is the youngest at age 15. I am oblivious to what the next steps are going to be in my life. The Summer, as all Summers were spent since April 24, 1950, taking care of my newest sibling, Sheryl Ann. As my older sister had done for me for a number of years, I was now doing for my darling young sister Sheri.

My understanding of how one gets into college was zero. I had seen my guidance counselor once in my high school career, when I was coming over for a visit in 9th grade. Mrs. Sutterlin seemed like a nice person, but I never did see her again. I had heard all kinds of rumors about tests that might be taken to get into college, but I did not think they applied to me. As a matter of fact, I did not know what an application was, nor how to get one. There were no computers, no t.v. ads for schools, no articles in the newspapers about going to college. My only conversations about college were to tell my mother that I was going to go for accounting ( that’s in my yearbook). I had no idea what accounting was. Stanley( my brother-in-law) had majored in accounting and that was the only major that I knew about.

As August rolled around and the heat became oppressive, I took myself over to sister Renee’s new house on Horace Harding Boulevard. She had some air conditioning or fans and I was roasting. After the evening meal, Renee asked me what colleges I had applied to and had I heard from any of them. I told her that none of the colleges had called me. She asked again if I had applied. I asked her what that meant and that’s when she blew her gasket. I did not know that one had to make some sort of effort to get into a school. The idea that an application was necessary was foreign to me. I had applied for jobs in the past, but college, wasn’t that different.

Renee instructed that I get my rear end down to Queens College the next day and see what I needed to do to get in. I was frightened out of my gourd. The next morning I walked over to Jewel Avenue and took the bus to Kissena Blvd. and walked over to Queens College. You must understand that none of this was in my experiential or comfort zone. I knew absolutely nothing about college or entrance to college. There I was a singular fellow with nothing to recommend me strolling over to a place I had never been to.

It was a sparkingly beautiful day on my walk from the bus to the college. It was not the behemoth that it is today, but kind of sleepy place that had been a women’s house of detention up to 1938. The buildings were very old and the shrubbery was gnarly. The quadrangle had little grass, but the soccer and baseball fields were still green and occupied. I had no idea what building to go into or who I should see. I picked the building at the head of the quadrangle and wandered into the President’s office. A kindly secretary gave me directions to the admissions office.

The admissions office had all of the official look of a 1950’s disheveled movie set office. There were papers strewn in every direction and people walking around seemingly without purpose. That was not what I had envisioned. A young woman asked me what I wanted and I told her that I wanted to go to Queens College and major in accounting. Her look told me that I had not given her the answer that she wanted. She asked me my name and began to rummage through some large stack of papers. She could not find my application. I told her that I had not applied and told her why. I imagine that she took pity on me and pulled out an application and gave me a pen to fill it out. I had not thought to bring a pen.

After about 20 minutes of filling out the application, I returned it to the kind young lady. She told me that it was really late for me to be applying. What was my high school average, she asked. I told her that it was about 82 or 83. She said that the entry averages for boys was 90% and for girls it was 94% ( that should tell you something about the times). What was I going to do? She said that the college was not completely filled yet and that the school was going to have to give some entrance examinations within the next few weeks. Was I interested? Why, of course I was and she gave me a ducat, on which the date and place of the tests were written.

Two weeks later, I appeared at the testing location, took the test and then waited for the results. They came quickly. I was accepted into Queens College, if I sent them a check for $25 and filled out some more forms. I later found out that I had attained the highest mark on the test of those who had taken it. I wonder how many people really did take it. It was late August, the dog days were coming to an end and Arnold Hillman was a college boy. Go directly to the book store and do not pass go and somehow come up with dough to buy books.

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SEX

HOW I BECAME INTERESTED IN SEX

In September of 1952 I am in 10th grade and not quite 14 years old. I wear glasses, have slick backed hair and weigh about 120 lbs. I mostly wear blue jeans and courderoy pants with just a smattering of regular pants to school. My hormones have just started to kick in and I have learned, mostly on the basketball court from the older guys, just what that thing in my pants can do when I am by myself. It was certainly a shock to me and my system when I heard that almost all of the guys did it and looked at “dirty pictures” at the same time. Woe be unto me if I had any dirty pictures that my mother found in my room.

Girls were constantly on my mind. There were a few girls in my neighborhood, who sometimes accepted my advances and returned my ardor with a knowing smile and a “get your hands off me.” Never shirking from a challenge, I would try things until the girls really made it plain to me that I should back off. I was never told off more plainly than with a girl called Georgia, who had moved into my apartment complex, Lakeview Gardens. She scratched both of my hands when I attempted to give her a smooch among other things.

My mother and stepfather never sat me down to explain the “facts of life.” I am not sure that either of them thought that it was their job to explain to their son the whys and wherefores of relationships between boys and girls. I picked up most of what I learned by trial and error. There were girls willing to help me learn the things I needed to know, to satisfy their own lack of information. There were no sex education classes to help us along or even to giggle and snicker at. Many of my female classmates were already involved with much older “men”- some in college and some even older. I asked one of the young ladies where she had gotten her beautiful mouton coat and she told me that her boyfriend, who was a furrier had given it to her. That was way past my imagination.

I bungled along learning bits and pieces as I went. I loved biology and actually got a good grade in that course. It was fascinating to see how things worked internally. I could only imagine what it would be like to get to a point in a relationship when you could actually inject all of those millions of sperm into a place where they might find an egg or two. The actual feelings of emotion and physical stimulation were not even a part of what I was looking to in the future.

I did walk a few girls to and from school, but that never lasted very long. Either they were going to do their homework, their hair, or themselves. I was content to come home change clothes and go out onto the outside basketball courts near the high school and play till I was exhausted. Mom would always be worried that I would somehow have my eye poked out by the basketball or by some errant digit. It only happened once when a much older player elbowed me as I was going by and sent me to the hospital with a couple of stitches.

As my high school career progressed, I became more comfortable creating situations that usually led to problems for others. In the cafeteria I began to see how I could stimulate my male classmates to heights of wolflike activities. There was an upper classwoman with a particularly scrumptious rear end. Here name was Gail Wishniak. She wore tight jeans and a fetching smile. I indicated to the fellows at my table that we could really score some points with her if we constantly looked at her rear end as she walked by or sat at her lunch table. It was agreed and it worked. Gail somehow got the idea that there were people staring at her hind quarters. She never changed her actions and maintained her cool all the while. I am guessing that she really did like the attention. At that age, it must be that getting attention from males, of any sort, was a good thing.

With all of the poodle skirts, tight skirts, fluffy blouses, tight sweaters and suchlike, I never had a truly sexual experience in high school with any of the young ladies. It was through a friend that I was introduced to the kind of woman who enriched the lives of countless schmendricks like me during their teenage years. To say that I was scared would be an understatement of the highest order. I was petrified. Somehow, the trip to Brooklyn by subway and the ensuing experience are really best told in “Biloxi Blues,” and doesn’t need to be recreated here. The sexual act with a young woman for money brought up more questions than it did answer them. However, it did enable me to say, in the confines of a group of young males of my acquaintance, that “ I had experience.”