Alfred University

On one occasion, the Hofstra football team was to play Alfred University, in western New York. The athletic director asked Peg and me if we would like to go along with them and the team on the bus and hotel trip and watch the game. We enjoyed the trip immensely, but when we saw the countryside around Alfred, Peg fell in love with it, as did I. Part of the reason was that there were so many open hills that looked good for skiing. (Ski slopes and lifts were unknown to us in those days. While at Heidelberg, we had gone skiing in the Austrian and Bavarian Alps during the Christmas vacations, but those were the days when you climbed up the mountain before you skied down.)

Anyway, as luck would have it, there was an opening at Alfred University the following year for a faculty member to teach some sociology and some philosophy, for both of which I was prepared. We talked it over and I jumped at the opportunity. The process of deciding whether to hire me ended up with an invitation to appear for an interview at the vacation home of the president on Keuka Lake, relatively close to Alfred, but some 350 miles from Hempstead and Hofstra.

Peg was about seven months along with our first baby, Ursula, but she came along on the trip. On the way, we developed muffler trouble, to the extent that the exhaust system gave a constant roar as we drove the last few miles. We were of course tired when we arrived at the president's cottage for our five o'clock appointment. We assumed that because of the time of day specified, they would serve drinks, light or heavy, and have us to dinner. There was not only the president and his wife, but the registrar who had a cottage on the same lake, and also one of the senior professors. Instead of inviting us in, they all came out on the lawn and we talked in a circle. This went on for an hour, and Peg and I sort of paused, figuring that the formalities were over and now they would invite us inside for dinner and the evening. After some hemming and hawing, though, one of them said, "You will probably want a place to eat, and I would suggest the such-and-such restaurant in Hammondsport, here. It has good food and modest prices."

We tried to hide our dismay at their turning us loose at that hour after our long drive up there. We got back into our old 1936 Plymouth, and had to drive a short distance the wrong way because of the narrow dirt road. Then, we turned our car around and went sailing past their cottage with our roaring exhaust system. Embarrassed and still chagrined by the turn of events, we couldn't help chuckling as we saw the three men and their wives in such apparently deep consultation that they were oblivious to the racket we were making. We ate at the suggested restaurant and stayed overnight in Hammondsport.

Many months later, after I had been accepted at Alfred and had launched on my teaching, I learned that I had been neck and neck with another likely candidate whom they had considered quite seriously and whom they had interviewed earlier that same afternoon, along with his wife. That probably explained the lateness of the hour set for my appointment.

I also learned that their opinion of me and the other candidate was so similar that they were hard pressed to make the final choice. They finally decided that they preferred Peg as a faculty wife to the other candidate's wife, so I have Peg to thank for my many happy years teaching at Alfred University.

Our first child Ursula was born in November, 1941, shortly before the "Day of Infamy" at Pearl Harbor. Gradually, life for us was transformed by the war. I remember being part of the civic patrol, or whatever it was called. During blackouts in this little town of only a few natives and the students, my duty was to quell riots on Main St. Predictably there were none.

During this time, Peg and I, and then Ursula, lived at 25 W. University St., an interesting old single story house with a strange cupola on the roof. We agreed with the owner to paint the house, outside and in, in exchange for several months' rent. I worked chiefly painting the outside. Peg helped with that but did all the inside. This was house number two for us and painting.

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