College

When I was 16, well into my senior year of high school, I went to see my guidance counselor – Floyd Hillman.  Mr. Hillman told me (the words are etched in my brain) “I think I can get you a job as an assistant plumber.”  I sat.  And wanted to cry.  An honorable profession.  But I didn’t want to be an assistant plumber.  I left his office.  Sad about my impending future.  But some of my friends talked about “college.”  College sounded pretty good. 

My father never finished high school and my mother never went to college.  So we never talked much about college at home.  I would finish high school and then go to work.  Even so, I mentioned “college” to my father.  “College?” he said.  “The only guy I know who went to college is Bill Swanson.”  He looked at me.  “You wanna talk to him??”  I nodded.

So we went to see Mr. Swanson.  He said “I went to Augustana College.  Maybe I could get you an interview.”  My dad said “you want that?” and I nodded. . . . not entirely sure what that meant.  My parents and I drove out to Rock Island, Illinois — home of Augustana College — and I had an interview with Mr. Henning, the Director of Admissions.  It was April or May — around the time of high school graduation.  Mr. Henning said that the class was full.  And my grades were not great.  But he liked that I was an Eagle Scout.  He had a couple of discretionary spots.  So he offered to admit me on academic probation.  If I didn’t have a “C” average first semester, I was out.  So I signed on.  A few months later, I was in college.  My first semester – of 6 courses, I had 5 “C’s” and one “B” (in swimming).  I was in.  The second youngest freshman in my class (I’d skipped 2d grade).

This fall, I will have my 50th reunion.   I owe Augustana College for taking a flyer on a just turned 17 year old kid with mediocre grades.  I was given a chance.   It will be good to be back.  See old friends.  My fraternity brothers.  And visit. . . my college.           

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Girl Scouts

In my post of July 13, 2017, I referenced an article calling the Eagle Scout rank the “PhD of Boyhood.”  In my post of May 14, 2017, I observed that being an Eagle Scout was likely the sine qua non — that got me to where I am today. It got me into college (it certainly wasn’t my grades or last minute application to Augustana College).  As a result of squeaking into college (on academic probation), I met Donna. Had Lauren. Two granddaughters. Got a great job.  Yadda yadda

In my post of October 6, 2013, I opined that no one should be allowed to become a politician unless they were an Eagle Scout, or the Girl Scout equivalent  — or shared the values thereof.   That eliminates nearly all Democrats, a lot of Republicans and Donald Trump.   

So how do I feel about having girls becoming Eagle Scouts?  I think it’s great.  It is a wonderful idea.   While I prefer that this achievement be accomplished under the auspices of the Girl Scouts of America, if it’s done through the Boy Scouts, so be it.  What is important – is to develop a universe of young women who achieve the Eagle Scout rank (by meeting all of the challenging requirements and living up to the values).  It would be a major plus for them.  And for America.   Democrat or Republican, I would want them to run for office.  And win.      

The Ph.D. of Boyhood

Do you have a son? Grandson?  Want to improve his chance of succeeding in school and as an adult? Encourage him to join the Boy Scouts of America.

In 2012, Baylor University conducted a study of the impact of Boy Scouts – and Eagle Scouts – on society.  The impact was highly positive.  A synopsis of the study can be found at http://www.baylor.edu/mediacommunications/news.php?action=story&story=113239   

The Boy Scouts is by far the largest youth organization in America (2.6 million Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Explorers and Venturers) and the best youth organization ever devised.  Eagle Scout service projects constitute the largest youth service initiative in history (150 million hours and counting).  And 3 million souls are alive today because they, their parents or grandparents had their lives saved by a Boy Scout.

On November 17, 2015, Michael Malone penned an article for the Wall Street Journal on Scouting.   Malone calls the path to the Eagle Scout award “the Ph.D. of Boyhood.”  I’m glad – make that lucky – I have my Ph.D. . . . .  

As a parent, you could not wish a better activity for your son (or daughter) than Scouting.  America desperately needs youth – and adults – who abide by the Scout Law – to be trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent. Wouldn’t it be nice if our politicians would abide by these principles (see post of September 12, 2011).   

For Want of a Nail. . . . .

(A repeat from December 3, 2015)

If there was a pivotal moment in my life, it was becoming an Eagle Scout. I owe a lot to that boyhood achievement: going to college; going to law school; getting a job; meeting my wife; having a daughter and grandchildren; and knowing how to deal with different “situations.”

The sine qua non for my acceptance to Augustana College was that I was an Eagle Scout (see post of 10/13/13). It sure wasn’t because I was a scholar. At Augustana, I chatted with a couple of pals who talked about law school. Soooo, I went to law school. At Augustana, I met Diane — who a year after my graduation introduced me to Donna (“Scott I have a girlfriend from New York I think you should meet“). And because of Donna, we have Lauren and her family. When I interviewed to be a State’s Attorney, the first 15 minutes of conversation was about Boy Scouts (I’d put “Eagle Scout” on my resume). And I was offered the job.

Being an Eagle Scout taught a lot – including first aid (see 10/21/11 and 10/31/15). That knowledge has saved the day on more than a few occasions. An Eagle trajectory got me a job at age 14 (for three summers) on staff at Camp Napowan — a Scout camp in Wild Rose, Wisconsin. That experience provided a major education and provided friends I have to this day.

All in all, I’d have to say that being an Eagle Scout was the “nail” (Poor Richard’s Almanac 1758) that made all the difference in the world for yours truly. And you know what? That achievement has made – and will continue to make — all the difference in the world for a universe of young men.

For Want of a Nail. . . .

If there was a pivotal moment in my life, it was becoming an Eagle Scout. I owe a lot to that boyhood achievement: going to college; going to law school; getting a job; meeting my wife; having a daughter and grandchildren; and knowing how to deal with different “situations.”

The sine qua non for my acceptance to Augustana College was that I was an Eagle Scout (see post of 10/13/13).  It sure wasn’t because I was a scholar.   At Augustana, I chatted with a couple of pals who talked about law school.  Soooo, I went to law school.  At Augustana, I met Diane — who a year after my graduation introduced me to Donna (“Scott I have a girlfriend from New York I think you should meet“).  And because of Donna, we have Lauren and her family.  When I interviewed to be a State’s Attorney, the first 15 minutes of conversation was about Boy Scouts (I’d put “Eagle Scout” on my resume).  And I was offered the job.

Being an Eagle Scout taught a lot – including first aid (see 10/21/11 and 10/31/15).  That knowledge has saved the day on a few occasions.  An Eagle trajectory got me a job at age 14 (for three summers) on staff at Camp Napowan — a Scout camp in Wild Rose, Wisconsin.  The experience provided a major education and provided friends I have to this day.

All in all, I’d have to say that being an Eagle Scout was the “nail” (Poor Richard’s Almanac 1758) that made all the difference in the world for yours truly.  And you know what?  That achievement has made – and will continue to make — all the difference in the world for a universe of young men.              

What is America Coming To?

We had a discussion of politics — Trump/Hillary — with some friends. Very uncomfortable.  I do not like politics or discussion of it since I am always right on such things (to understand this comment see July 6, 2014).  Some swear by Hillary despite her lying and corruption.  Some said Trump irrespective of his arrogance and stupid comments.

On reflection, given the choices — I would vote for neither. I would probably write in the name of someone who has honesty, integrity and ability.  Like my dog Daisy.  Or some Eagle Scout pal.  Seriously folks — what is America coming to — where our prospective choices are a clown and someone who belongs in prison?  Oh yes – and then there’s the socialist who would turn America into France or Venezuela or North Korea.   What are people thinking?   What do these choices say about our electorate?  What would our parents/grandparents say about the parade of horrors now in contention for the biggest job in the world?    

What ever happened to the likes of Everett Dirksen, Tip O’Neill, Ronald Reagan, Franklin D. Roosevelt, John Kennedy, Dwight D. Eisenhower or the constellation of Founding Fathers who planted the seeds for our nation?  If they were around, I’m sure Hillary would lie about them.  Trump would ridicule them.  And Sanders would condemn them.        

 

American Sign Language

I was sitting on the train a few weeks ago — waiting to pull out of the station. Three young girls (probably high school) came in and sat in the 4 seater ahead of me. They began conversing animatedly. Laughing. Giggling. And I watched. Fascinated.  What caught my attention was — they didn’t make a sound. One of the girls was deaf. And the three were mouthing words to each other and using sign language. “Signing.”  They were fast.  And fluent. 

American Sign Language (“ASL”) originated in the early 19th century at the American School for the Deaf in Hartford, CT.   Today, it is used by nearly a million people.  I have two friends who are conversant in ASL:  my partner Dave D. and my former priest, Fr. Bob M. (both Eagle Scouts by the way).  Watching these three young women “talking” was something of a wake up for me.  Since then, when I have lunch at my desk (which is often), I will sometimes log onto an ASL site just to stretch my small brain.  The site is http://lifeprint.com.  I can say “I am a grandfather” and a few other things in ASL.  It is pretty cool to creak open this door.  I even looked into the cost of a class at a Loop college a few blocks away. 

If you want to stretch your brain, this would be a great way to do it.  I guess I have a special reason to look into ASL.  You see my father was clinically deaf from World War II.  And he never learned ASL.  And neither did I. . . . .