It was January of 1959 and I was a newly minted veteran. I was 20 years old and had no idea what I wanted to do for the near future, other than return to Queens College and finish my degree. I moved back into my mom’s home and discovered that my baby sister Sheryl Ann was already 8 years old. She was just a sprout when I had left and now she was a big girl who was happy to see her brother. I had been Sherie’s constant babysitter when she was growing up and we had become attached to each other. She was always a sweet kid who followed her brother around wherever I went. She had the same feeling for me that I had for my older sister who had done the babysitting thing for me when I was young.
When I got back onto campus, I realized that the people that I had left behind were now in their senior year and though they remembered me, they were onto new things. I got back to my fraternity Phi Lambda Delta and became even more active than I had been when I left ( more of that later). Since I now had to make some sort of decision about my future studies I chose to major in the one thing that I had sort of a connection with and that was history. I was always a trivia kind of person and the understandings that I had accumulated about Jewish history at the yeshiva, attracted me to this part of the curriculum. I thoroughly enjoyed all of my history, geography and less so my economics courses. I was through with accounting and did not even think about the subject till I later became a superintendent of schools.
My minor in education came to me through some sort of fluke. I was talking to a young lady, who I later dated, about what she was going to do with her life. She told me that she was a math major and was considering going on to become a math teacher. I did not realize until that moment that I really enjoyed teaching. I had done some teaching while I was in the service, on a very limited basis, helping some of the NCO’s who were about to take an intelligence test so that the army would not throw them out. I liked the feel of teaching and connections to other people. I had spent some time explaining things to some of the fellows in our outfit about the Jewish religion, living in a city, and other subjects. Those folks seemed to listen to me and I realize now, that I must have really loved it.
I began to take courses in education- the history, the philosophy, the methods, psych, abnormal psych, child development, practicum and student teaching. I have forgotten many more of the courses that I took, but they are in there somewhere. Is teaching a science, or an inherent skill or art? In my now 49 years in education I tilt towards teaching as an art form. Can you make yourself a better teacher. Sure you can. However, there are just some people who step into the classroom on the first day and “get it.”
My social life centered about Phi Lambda Delta. As the first semester back progressed I realized that the members of the fraternity now viewed me as kind of an older person. I was given a bit of respect because I had been in the military. This was prior to Vietnam and most of these fellows had not served and thought that the military was an honorable endeavor. By the end of my first semester, I was elected Chancellor of Phi Lambda Delta.
Although our fraternity had always been integrated, the number of young Jewish men predominated. People like Alan Handlesman, Paul Herman, Paul Friedman, Gideon Eisenberg, Lee Robert Berkson and his brother Stanley, and in the center of it all Fred (now Hanoch) McCarty. Fred was a special kind of guy. He had tried mightly to flunk out of Queens and had done an excellent job. He petitioned Dr. Hortense Powdermaker ( a colleague of Margaret Meade) to get back into school and she granted him permission to stay. Fred was a troublemaker par excellence in a brilliant manner. His compendium of, “Sounds of the Human Body,” parts 1 to 13 predate all of the Gerge Carlin bits.
Fred was the first person in college history to start a food fight ( in the college cafeteria). He instigated many such activities like having us dress up as Fidel Castro and run games of chance at a Queens College Function. He had us take a roll of toilet paper and stretch it out from 42nd St. and Broadway to 46th St. and Broadway and wear bedsheets and sell 25 cent tickets to the end of the world. In later years Fred would be at the forefront of making fun of the residents of his apartment building who were complaining about a low income high rise being built next door by playing the Drums of Olatunji in his elevator.
He was a clever writer and helped to create a language, with me, that included words such as frabning and crawb, which we placed in most of our English papers. No professor ever caught it. Fred claims that my affect on him was great and we became, and still are friends. He went on to be a maven on values clarification, helped pen one of the Chicken Soup for the Soul books and is a sought after speaker around the country.
Our fraternity dabbled in social issues and became well known for being anti-establishment. The President of Queens College, Harold Stoke, found that out when we invited him to one of our seminars and would not let him leave till 2:00 a.m. To say that I enjoyed PLD is an understatement. It figured prominently in my re-integration into society.