Hooray For The Orange And Blue
Indian Economy & Market|April 2018

Hooray For The Orange And Blue

William J. Dean

The elementary school I attended in New York City, a private day school for boys, went from grades one through eight. In those days, boys were then expected to go to boarding school for the next four years. Thus, in the fall of 1951, I arrive at a boarding school in Pennsylvania, light years away, or so it seemed to me, from the pulsating pavements of New York City.

Born and raised in New York, I hated being stuck seven days a week at a school where I had no friends, in a town without sidewalks in the middle of nowhere. I decide to run away. One Saturday morning I get on my bike and start pedaling in the direction of Philadelphia, low on cash, ultimate destination unknown.

After several hours on the road, I make a second determination: To turn back. I am hungry and do not want to miss lunch. No one at the school ever knows I ran away and few would care if they did know. Thus ended a pathetic effort to relieve my unhappiness.

But mother knew. Loud and clear, I tell her, “I’m not going back.” She being wise, firm and fair, experienced in life’s vicissitudes, having come by herself to these shores as a refugee from Russia in 1919 at age 16 and become a widow at age 33, with two children to support, one as yet unborn, responded, “You are going back to finish the 9th grade and then we will look for a day school for you in the city.” In love with the city herself, she was sympathetic to my unhappiness. And mother knew a lot about homesickness, having been separated for years from her family and friends, country (Russia), city (St. Petersburg), and language -- the daily use of Russian.

Months later, I appear in the office of Wilson Parkhill, headmaster of Collegiate School, located on the West Side of Manhattan on 77th Street between Broadway and West End Avenue. Rising from his chair, Mr. Parkhill stood 6 feet 4 inches tall. He welcomes me warmly to the school. In his presence, I no longer feel like a failed human being. My one year as an outcast has come to an end.

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