You are here

LATEST NEWS
LATEST NEWS

Tumultous Teens

As a paper boy for the Des Moines Register Rick learned about Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, the best prep school in the world. He applied, was accepted and given a scholarship, then asked his parents if he could please please please please please attend. To their eternal regret they were unable to say 'no' (Nancy Reagan would have). Rick was loaded on a train in Moline, Illinois, in September of 1965, headed for Boston. He never came back.

Well, for Christmas and Spring breaks and summer vacations he did come back, and in fact attended classes with his friends at Maquoketa Community High School, only occasionally getting in trouble for doing so. Andover was a great leap forward in Rick's life, but family ties always remained exceptionally strong (and by this time his little sisters had turned into actual people, vastly increasing their tolerability).

Andover grades ranged from excellent (math) to wretched (French). He was a varsity wrestler in 9th grade, then a kind but befuddled old doctor required him to wear a full length back brace for the next three years, putting an end to his athletic (and military) career. He generally behaved, or at least was not caught misbehaving, until one day a housemaster apprehended him smoking a (tobacco) pipe in the attic of his dorm. Whoops! Probation – the next best thing to getting kicked out – was his.

Rick failed to get into one of the Big Four universities so opted to attend Menlo College in Menlo Park, California, in hopes its close proximity to Stanford would somehow allow him to transfer. It did not. Perhaps because, freed of Andover's restrictive dress code (coat and tie for 20 meals per week, short hair for 21), Rick did his best to resemble a hippie. At this time (1969/70) real hippies were throwing bricks through university windows, and Stanford probably thought it sound strategic thinking not to allow them to actually live in their dorms.

Having completed Menlo's highest math sequence there was no particularly good reason to return to California for his sophomore year. Instead Rick wasted the summer enrolled in, but not participating in, classes at Clinton Community College, and wishing he had a job. The best he could muster was as light show guy for his friends and their garage band – The Guys Who Came Up From Downstairs – for which he was regularly given ten dollars, which he regularly spent on beer.

This was also the summer of Iowa's one and only rock concert at Wadena. To Rick's surprise Andy got Bill to give them the car for the weekend (what could he have been thinking?) and through astute use of his entirely fallacious Canadian Press Club card (normally used only to buy beer), Rick finagled a stage pass, from where he saw Little Richard destroy his piano.

When Fall rolled around Rick's friends all returned to college and he found himself with not even ten dollars for beer. Fortunately his mother, prescient to the core, had clandestinely enrolled him at Iowa State University. He only lasted one semester, but it was one semester to remember. An 'A' a 'B; a 'C' a 'D' and an 'F' – a perfect guarantee that nobody could accuse him of anything. His three roommates, all members of the same fraternity but reluctant to live in its house from respect for its anti-drug rules, turned out to be an excellent source of diversionary entertainment. A pound of mediocre pot was purchased, Rick was given his first LSD, and a couple of girlfriends appear in the narrative as well.

At the end of the semester Rick had to admit he was doing nothing but wasting his mother's hard earned tuition money so he resolved to do something completely different. Go to Europe.

Add new comment