Letters to Irish Reveries


Hi Vince... Some "Ramblings from an ND RAMBLER.....

In July of 1957 I received my letter of acceptance from the University of Notre Dame.  At the time I was completing a 4 year hitch in the US Coast Guard and was stationed in NYC at the Custom House on recruiting duty.  The guy sitting next to me was.........ALEX HALEY........who would bring along a short story he was writing and ask me to comment/edit it over lunch.   That's another story and a good one. 

My boss was a LTJG from NYC who was a '52 ND grad, Joseph B. (He later was an attorney at CBS for 30 years and now owns America's Funniest Videos...along with other shows).  He encouraged me to take the College Entrance Examination Boards (CEEB, I think in those days) at NYU just to see  if I could make the cut for admission to ND.  Since I hadn't opened a school book in 4 years and was never much good at math subjects, I held open no possibility for passing the tests or the outside chance of ever getting into ND.  Since I lived in an apartment in the Village (The Coast Guard had no living quarters) it was a short walk on a Saturday morning over to NYU campus (I even remember the room) where I sat for the examinations along with mostly black haired young men who were creaming through the whole testing deal while I pondered over simple logic/math questions.  As I looked around I felt that I didn't stand a chance of making it through the ordeal of beating out any of these guys (there were no women in the group) and I had pretty much given up hope when I suddenly realized that HEY, these guys are all Jews!  They are testing for Harvard and Princeton, not ND.  Somehow I finished up the examinations and, thanks to a good Jesuit high school background, I was headed back to South Bend the 1st week of September.  My room mate was from upstate NY, like you.  Seneca Falls.  We both were body builders and a big part of Father Lange's Gym.  In the Spring of ' '59 we even entered the "Mr. Indiana" contest...another story because we did OK.  One of my class mates ("ND'60) is the Secretary of the Interior, another was the Secretary of the Air Force,  two made Rear Admiral,  one was a prominent Viet Nam Marine Corps hero (Remember Camp Carroll?), one a brother to Dick Gregory, another a son of Perry Como. 

Carl Yastrzemski, Triple Crown Winner and HOF, started out our freshman year.  Chuck Lennon, Alumni Director, is ND'61.

There is much more to tell about my own 4 years at ND:  I worked as a lifeguard (50 cents/Hr), set up the bleachers (basketball) in the old Field House (six bits total for set up and break down), worked 20 hours a week as an assistant to the Public Information Director, was a waiter at the head table in Corby Hall (also sometimes a cook) where I got to know Fathers Ted and Joyce very well.  I gave campus tours, made up the weekly calendar of events and hosted VIP visitors to campus. 

Sometime I will tell you about: Working in Alaska between freshman and sophomore years.  It was a job with the Fish and Wildlife Dept. and I had to kill a big Brown Bear to save my own life. I was alone in the "bush" as a streamguard.  One other streamguard was killed by commercial fisherman, another died from food poisoning, another got so scared of the bears that he anchored his (open) boat away from shore and sat in it for days until rescued.  Great stuff for a communications major!  I got straight A's in writing from professors who had only academic experience.  And how about working as the only non Hawaiian beachboy the next summer.  I met a ton of famous people and had some great times that I'll never forget...

Thomas H.


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