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Yarmouth Port, Massachusetts, United States

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Northwestern Prep

You have to be seventeen to enter West Point
This presented a dilemma:
How to obtain an appointment for a year hence;
What to do in the meantime.

Robert Hutchins, president of the University of Chicago
Invited him and other top graduates of Chicago high schools
To enroll in the new program of great books
With a full academic scholarship.

While flattering, his parents vetoed the idea.
Sixteen was too young for him to be away at college
Especially as far distant as the South Side.
He didn't want to do it anyway.

So a compromise was achieved by
Enrolling him in the engineering school at Northwestern
Meeting in new buildings in Evanston,
And easily reached on the El from home.

Then the problem of securing a West Point appointment
Could be addressed separately.
His father found out that it could be obtained by
Making an unaffordable donation to the local congressman.

He reported to Northwestern for freshman orientation
A week before classes commenced.
Among the scheduled events was a mixer for
Members of various Christian denominations.

The hand of God was evident on that bright August day.
He and a very attractive girl approached a clergyman
In a clerical collar, thinking he was a Catholic priest.
Alan Watts, of later fame, directed them across the room.

This chance meeting led to a romance of fifty-eight years,
Resulting in four children, and seven grandchildren.
It is her story, more than his, which deserves
To be chronicled elsewhere in this volume.

A year at Northwestern proved invaluable as
Academic preparation for the military academy.
Later in 1944, Senator Brooks of Illinois
Held an open competition for his appointments.

He took the train downstate to Bloomington,
Scored second on the test.
The winner declined to accept,
Thus his appointment to West Point was assured for 1945.

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