Thursday, October 14, 2010

Journey of Awakening – 6: Dreaming & Escaping

The Minneapolis Park Board had this great summer recreation program at what must have been a hundred parks throughout the city. Each park had one man and one woman assigned for the summer to run sports, games and crafts programs. Somehow during the summer after my sophomore year I caught the attention of Stan Nemec, the Director of Recreation for the City. He offered me the job of Men’s Rec. Director at Nicollet Field, which was year-round and part-time. This got me through my college years, along with the continued summer program. I organized and coached teams in football, hockey, and baseball for the Park Boys’ Leagues. The rest of the time at work I played pickup basketball games with the “guys from the hood,” a group of mostly African American boys who hung around the field. Evelyn Schellhammer, who was the Girls’ Director and a middle-aged lady with a sour attitude but a good heart, was constantly on my case for spending so much time playing. I told her I was the men’s’ recreation director and my job was to teach kids how to play together and how could I teach them if I didn’t “recreate” with them. She would shake her head and walk away mumbling. You might say I played my way through college. I also played on our church’s team in the men’s church basketball league, as well as making the final cut on the U. of Minnesota Freshman team.

There were also classes to attend on campus and studies to complete. Tests to take, papers to write. I spent lots of time at the Bridge Café, adjacent to the campus, which was, along with the basement of the Library where you could smoke, and my church where Ted Warren and I wrote most of our term papers in all-night sessions, my “study halls.”

I do have memories of going to classes. Freshman English with Dr. Irving Deere, who liked to touch the girls in his office during private “counseling” sessions. Thankfully, he wasn’t into touching the guys. We read Catcher in the Rye and took endless essay tests. Dr. McCorkadale lectured to a thousand of us in Psych. 101 and got a standing ovation on the last day of class. He and his minions introduced us to the famous, now infamous, Behavioral Psychology School (aka the “rats-in-the-maze” school of psychology) and multiple choice exams (aka “multiple-guess” exams, which we studied by going over copies of all past exams, hoping to catch some of the right questions on the current exam). Dr. Jones in World History 101 gave his lecture, “Jones’ Folly,” describing in great (and boring) detail how he had spent 20 years of his career attempting to decipher Minoan Linear B, a pre-Greek cuneiform script, and the day before the lecture, his colleague in the east had “cracked” it. Two years of French and all I can remember is reading The Three Musketeers and how to invite a damsel to your boudoir. Also, in two years of Classical Greek I discovered an interest in language and got straight “A”s.

The most influential teacher I had was Dr. Paul Holmer, who was one of the pre-eminent Soren Kierkegaard scholars, from whom I received an intimate view of the Melancholy Dane and his writings, especially Either/Or, the great work on Christian existentialism, and the Attack on Christendom, which, I am sure, at least in part, led to my demise as a local church pastor (that and encountering the Ecumenical Institute which will be in a later story).

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