On June 3, 1966, I graduated with an A.B. from Dartmouth College. What’s an A.B, you may ask? Well, as my diploma is entirely in Latin, it stands for Artium Baccalaurei, or Bachelor of Arts.
Although I am besieged with mail from the college, asking for money, participation in local and national alumni events (such as my 50th Reunion), and deluxe trips around the world with other alums. Will I participate? Uh, no. That despite the fact that I was awarded a four-year alumni scholarship, for which I am grateful—but not in any material way.
What bothers me is that none of the people I knew and liked at Dartmouth are active with the alumni. Instead, it’s all the same gladhander crew that was active in the fraternity system (which I loathed), student government (for which I was not popular enough), and/or sports (for which I didn’t qualify). I went through four years of Dartmouth with a brain tumor, which was not operated on until September 1966. Until then, I looked like an extraordinarily pale and sickly middle school or high school student.
It’s not that I didn’t make friends easily. My oldest friend was one of my classmates who now lives only 25 miles from me in San Pedro. There are others, but they were all like me in one way or another—and none saw fit to become active with the alums.
Somehow I managed to survive the college years, and even enjoyed them despite a level of pain that would sink me into my grave today. Those frontal headaches were almost constant, the result of a pituitary tumor pressing against my optic nerve. Today I am a different person altogether.
The one debt I feel I owe Dartmouth is actually to the Catholic Student Center there. When I was lying near death at Fairview General Hospital in Cleveland, my parents were shocked to find that my student insurance had just expired. They told Monsignor William Nolan of the Center to pray for me, which he did—and more. He went to bat for me and bullyragged the insurance company into covering me. Imagine that happening today!
Monsignor Nolan has since gone to join his ancestors, but I still owe him. And he gets paid in full before anyone else at Dartmouth gets dime one from me.