May 1979

Nott Memorial, Union College Schenectady New York

Nott Memorial, the central focal point at Union College in Schenectady, NY


I took the GED exam and scored quite well. I start classes at SCCC soon. Financial aid should cover most costs; my parents say they will help out if they can as long as I continue to live at home. I’ll be taking the bus and riding my bike though, because they do not want me to get my driver’s license, since that would raise their car insurance, which I will need to pay for even if I don’t get a car. If I live at home and don’t go to school, then I will need to start paying them rent.  Given the parameters, the choice is pretty easy: live at home, go to college, and do not drive.

I tagged along on the bus with Kathy to an appointment in Schenectady. Afterward, we wandered around while talking and ended up at Union College.  Neither one of us had ever been in a fraternity house, and decided to check out first one we saw. The place was a wreck; our shoes made squeaky ripping noises with each step as they stuck to the tiled area of the floor near a bar in the dining area. The room reeked of a sour odor that must have been old beer soaked into the thin carpet of what appeared to be a large family room with couches, a TV, pool table, and beer pong set up.  I assumed there had just been a party, but that’s probably how it looks just about any day of the week. We headed right up the stairs acting as if we belonged, but must have really looked out of place, because this guy standing at the bottom of the stairs stopped us before we had gotten even half way to the first landing, calling out with a really big smile, “Can I help you ladies?” I simply answered, “We’re just looking around.”  Why lie? He raised his eyebrows and pouted his mouth to a slight frown, but said, “ok,” so we continued up the flight, checking out the framed annual house photos that lined the walls, and wandered around the halls on the different floors, and peeked into open dorm rooms to see what it was all like. On our way back down the stairs, the same guy stopped us once again, introduced himself as Lou, and asked if we wanted to stay for dinner.  Kathy and I looked at each other, and shrugged our shoulders. I said, “Sure, but I’ll have to call home first to ask my mother.”  He walked me back upstairs to use a phone in this little room in the hall on the second floor. My mom said, “that’s fine,” without asking questions; I don’t think she realized that we just met these people.

We hung out and talked before dinner was ready.  The dining area had long tables lined up in a U shape; lots of guys came in, but nobody sat down.  There were probably 50 guys all standing at the table behind their chairs, watching us talking to Lou near the center of the shorter bank of tables of the middle part of the U.  Finally, Lou told us that nobody would sit until Kathy and I sat down first. We both quickly dropped into the closest seats, and Lou sat next to me.  Over the dinner conversation, he asked why I had such a dark tan, which was a legitimate question, since it was Spring in upstate New York, and I looked like I had spent all summer at the beach. I explained that I was just back from traveling for months with my parents’ magic act on cruise ships.  He asked a barrage of questions about what we did, where we went, and what that life was like, and then if I would do some magic.   My dad is great with close up magic and can do all kinds of tricks using everyday objects – especially things that are on a normal dining room table.  I don’t have a clue how to do any of that.  I am the girl in a skimpy outfit who does the snake dance routine, gets cut in half, impaled by swords, appears and disappears, brings props on and off stage, and takes a bow.  But I can’t make a simple salt shaker disappear, levitate a fork, or pull a coin from behind someone’s ear.  But I do have one trick I can do just about anywhere, and I said I’d do it for the whole fraternity right there in the dining room.

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