Pit Stops on The Road Of Life

FRESHMAN YEAR 1964-1965



 

I guess I had my financial logistics all worked out by the time the Gross’s car pulled up to the King’s dorm in September of 1964.  My tuition was being fully paid by the Sordoni scholarship, but there was still the cost of room and board, fees, and books.  Books were to be bought for just the first semester, with more being purchased later for the second semester. Room and board were dealt with for the entire freshman year in advance.  I don’t recall the precise cost of room and board, but I think it was around $900, roughly equal to a year’s tuition.  I had managed to save some money from my job in South Carolina and a goodly portion was applied to the total. I think I retained a few bucks to cover extracurricular expenses until I could figure out some way to earn more money.  King’s MAY have applied my entire loan to just the room and board and let me charge my books, for, after earning more, I did go to the Financial Office and make small weekly payments on something.  In any case, the bottom line was that I ended up borrowing $625 for freshman year, from something called the National Defense Education Act.  I had never researched that act until just now but, at National_Defense_Education_Act, we see that it was passed in 1958 to make sure we didn’t fall behind the Russian space program which had launched Sputnik only a year earlier. 

 I was impressed by upper classmen coming to help unload my stuff from the Grosses’ car and I thought “This is going to be a nice place”.  I had been assigned a room in Hafey-Marion Hall. Partially named for former Bishop Hafey of the Scranton Diocese, it had formerly been the 6-story Marion Apartments building before King’s bought it.  The building was located on the southeast corner of N. Franklin and E. Jackson streets in downtown Wilkes-Barre.  My “room” was on the first floor that first semester and it was exactly in the corner of the first floor.  The “room” actually was one larger room with two beds and one smaller room with one bed.  The smaller room had windows on both sides, facing both N. Franklin and E. Jackson street.  The windows facing E. Jackson were of the louvered type which could be cranked open, so much the better to whistle at girls passing by, for the sidewalk was mere feet away.   (King’s was an all-male institution at the time and we were always on the lookout for fair young maidens.  LOL)  The smaller room, for that reason, was more desirable than the larger room but, as a freshman, I was outranked by my sophomore “roomies”.  My recall is a bit muddled here, for I recall THREE roomies but there was only space for two plus me.  The fellow in the smaller room, initially, was a guy named George, with some Polish surname.  I can’t tell you where he hailed from or what his major was but he seemed to spend most of his time playing pool in the dorm rec room.  I think he left school that semester, which made space for Bill Biondi of Wildwood, New Jersey. I got along well with Bill, who was, I think a Business major.  I was also compatible with Mike Carnese, who went by the nickname of “Fiji”.  He was, I believe, a Chemistry major.

Life in the dorm was my first time away from Dad but I don’t recall ever getting homesick.  (It’s hard to be “home”-sick when you’re not even sure WHERE you Dad is, i.e. where “home” is.) I had left him behind in South Carolina! Dorm life had all sorts of advantages over the two-room shack on the farm.  We had RUNNING WATER (!), with one full bathroom, complete with shower, for the 15-or-so dormies there on the first floor.  The college was well aware of a teenager’s propensity for a messy room so, as part of our fees, we got maid service to clean our room and change our sheets once a week.  Laundry service, to which we HAD to subscribe, picked up our clothes weekly.  The rec room in the basement had a pool table, a ping pong table, a couple of pinball machines,   and four telephone booths.  [Let me interject here that not all of this retelling is from my own memories.  I’ve received some help from Jim Zartman, a former dorm mate now scheduled to be my executor when I croak.] The television had “cable”, which I hadn’t heard of in Sweet Valley. I didn’t fully understand “cable” but just knew that we could watch a couple of Philadelphia stations and maybe one or two from New York.  I specifically recall the Lloyd Thaxton show from Philly, which competed with American Bandstand.  Thaxton was a silly fool who sometimes lip-synched to the rock’n’roll tunes. I remember him once pretending to be Jerry Lee Lewis as he banged away on his piano barefoot!  The camera would pull back to show us his unclad tootsies on the pedals.

King’s had quite strict rules for ALL its students.  No beards were allowed.  Anyone from out-of-state had to live either with local relatives or in the dorm; there was no such thing as an off-campus apartment.  Freshman rules were even a bit stricter.  A head count was conducted by a proctor at 7 PM to make sure we were in our room studying.  From 9 to 10 PM, we could go out for a snack or just stretch our legs.  When I could afford it, I’d head for Leo Matus’ news stand several blocks way on Public Square to buy “girlie’ magazines. At 10 PM sharp the dorm’s elevator operator would lock the front door.  Anyone coming in late would have to ring the doorbell for admittance and the elevator man would write down his name to turn it in to Father Campbell, our resident priest.  I think the few upper classmen in Hafey-Marion had a midnight curfew.  Most upper -classmen lived either next door in St. Joseph’s Hall or in the Hotel Sterling two blocks down River Street.

 Despite the rules, quite a bit of horseplay went on during my first semester.  It turned out that I was the ONLY freshman on the first floor due to, I’d imagine, my being assigned so shortly before the start of the school year.  The upper classmen had, by definition, been around longer and, thus, had more ideas of what constituted fun.  Hafey-Marion had previously been an old apartment building and its electrical wiring left quite a bit to be desired.  Hot plates were banned lest they cause an overload and start a fire but most of the rooms had one.  For most of that semester, the lights in my room, as well as others, would flicker off and remain off for maybe 15 minutes.  We’d open the door and yell down the hallway “Turn off that damned hot plate!” and it seemed to work.  Only very near the end of the semester did we learn the truth.  The fellows in the very last room down the hall had discovered, in their closet, the fuse box that controlled the entire first floor.  Simply unscrewing a fuse or two would elicit all sorts of complaints.  Tom Giordano, from New Jersey, was a very nice guy who everyone liked but that didn’t put him beyond being the butt of hijinks.   He once came back from a weekend at home to find his room completely barren; not a stick of furniture ANYWHERE.  The entire contents had been removed and harbored in all the other rooms.  I think we got his mattress, while the guys next door had his disassembled bed and another room had his desk.  Even his clothes and books had been distributed.  “Where the hell is my room?” he bellowed, and the entire floor erupted in laughter.  We made him wait about half an hour before returning his stuff.  Another bit of fun came from the upperclassmen and it involved the common bathroom. I wouldn’t have thought of such a trick because I was used to an outhouse on the farm.  The toilet seat would be raised, transparent Saran wrap spread tightly across the porcelain bowl, and then the seat lowered back into place.  More than once, a fellow who’d engaged in underage drinking would come barreling into the dorm, in a big hurry to drain his bladder.  So urgent was his need that he wouldn’t bother to raise the seat and would just let fly.  The unseen Saran wrap, of course, would cause a splatter onto his legs as well as the floor!

Freshman orientation took place in the auditorium with maybe five tables spread throughout.  Each table was assigned a few letters of the alphabet, based on last names, and was manned by college officials.  The college computers, rudimentary as they were in 1964, had printed out each student’s class schedule with an attached list of books required for each course. In another section of the auditorium were tables staffed by members of the various campus clubs.  Recalling the Shakespearean play I’d seen during my senior year at Lake-Lehman, I made sure to stop at the table of the theater club, the King’s Players. I sure was interested in hanging around with any group that included, at times, fair young maidens with low-cut bodices.  Tantalizing as that thought was, I decided to not join immediately, until after I’d gotten the hang of this college thing and was sure I could afford time away from my studies.

 One thing I can’t quite place is exactly when I decided I would be a math major.  It certainly wasn’t during the summer of ’64 for, spending it in South Carolina, I’d had no contact at all with the college.  It couldn’t have been when I arrived on campus, for the school, by that time, had already prepared my class schedule.  It, therefore, had probably been as early as when, back at Lake-Lehman, I learned I had been accepted.  My favorite teacher had been my math teacher, Stan Gulbish.  I had aced both plane geometry and trigonometry taught by him, as well as two years of algebra taught by others earlier.   Stan was a King’s grad and was happy that I was to attend his alma mater.  I don’t think he had any inkling to warn me that Calculus was a whole other world from what I’d known but choosing math as my major was a BIG MISTAKE!

 

King’s being a Catholic school, a fair portion of its faculty was comprised of priests of the Holy Cross order, while some were ranked only as “brothers”.  (I never fully understood the distinction.)  Reverend James Kline was a fully-fledged priest and, at the time, an elderly man, probably in his 70’s.  His field was mathematics and I’ve been told he’d authored a textbook or two on the subject of Calculus.  I landed in his class, Mathematics 14 (Analytical Geometry and Calculus 1) and, almost immediately, found it was much more than I had bargained for!    I did all right for maybe just the first two weeks but then found myself having to “book it” a hundred times more than I EVER had in high school.  The subject matter was almost beyond my comprehension and I still couldn’t grasp it despite spending maybe two hours each night trying.  Father Kline was of very little help for, as brilliant as he may have been, he had zero patience with dummies.  He seemed a bit of a masochist, too, intentionally sending me to work a problem on the blackboard and then ridiculing me when I screwed it up.  One of his favorite lines was “Why, Mr. Hontz, if you can’t do THAT baby problem, you may as well be skipping stones on the Susquehanna!”  Quite a few of my fellow students were grads of the local Catholic high schools and, as such, already studied some Calculus there before entering King’s.  Had they been so-ridiculed, as observant Catholics, they would have meekly stood there and endured the abuse.  Never would they have dared to argue with a priest. I, on the other hand, as a devout atheist, was under no such compunction.    I would come back with”No, I don’t know how to do it and that’s why I came here.  It’s YOUR job to teach me, so why don’t you do that?”  As the semester progressed, I fell farther and farther behind.  The final exam consisted of ten problems.  I nailed three of them, made passable attempts at maybe three more, and had no danged clue on the remaining four.  I approached Father Kline with one desperate plea: “I’m going to switch majors.  Would you please give me a ‘D’?”  He did the right thing and gave me the “F” I deserved.  Wow, did THAT hurt!  The course had been a 4-credit job, beyond the 3 credits that most courses carried, and failing it put me considerably behind the 8-ball for my remaining seven semesters. I would simply have to carry more than the usual number of credits in many of them.

Father Kline- He even LOOKED mean

 

First semester transcript

 

As you can see by my official transcript, King’s was a Liberal Arts college and, as such required even Math majors to study Philosophy.  Philosophy 18 was a “cattle call” affair, held in the lower level of Northampton Hall, an older building on E. Northampton Street that I think King’s either rented or had purchased from neighboring Wilkes College. I don’t recall which professor taught the class but it was a mess, in that there must have been over 50 freshmen in it.  The course material was only vaguely interesting, chiefly introducing us to the ancient Greek philosophers such as Thales, the first “water boy”. Thales Water_as_a_first_principle  With such a large class size, there was no time to ask questions and we, basically, just sat and listened as the prof droned on.  Oh, there WAS a textbook we were supposed to read but I seldom cracked its pages: I was too busy trying to figure out that Calculus stuff. Given as much time as I devoted to it, I was happy with my “C”.

English 11 should have been one of the courses I was able to “ace”, as I really knew my grammar from Lake-Lehman days and was quite capable of writing a decent sentence or two. Perhaps, there was something about my style that didn’t warrant an “A” but I didn’t complain about my “B”.

Elementary French was my strongest point, for I had studied a year of Latin and three years of Spanish in high school with nearly a 4.0.  King’s required two years of language for ALL majors. In Math, the choices were French, German or Russian, as modern-day Math research, if not in English, was being done in one of those. It was a no-brainer to stay within the Romance language family.  My teacher was a blue-haired retired public-school retiree, and I aced it.

I don’t recall anything about Sociology 31, but I did manage, as I did in Philosophy 18, to earn a “C”.

“Study skills” is another total mystery.  It sure didn’t require any class attendance and I have no idea how it was judged.  There sure was no one looking over my shoulder in my dorm room. I KNOW I spent at least an hour and a half each night, at least for the first half of that first semester, trying vainly to figure out the strange new language of Calculus.

Within a month or so, I found myself running out of pocket money and had to devise a plan to earn more.  October is the biggest month for harvesting potatoes, so I called Renold Morris to see if I could help out doing that.  Renold, alas, didn’t need me for, as he said “I already have a good helper – your DAD!”  I was totally shocked to learn that he was back from South Carolina and on the very next Saturday, I hitched home the 22 miles to see him in Sweet Valley.  Even then, after having found Janet with a brand-new baby, he wasn’t ready to admit that he had been taken in by her.  I believe his excuse was that he couldn’t find a job in SC and had come back to the farm where he could at least earn a measly 50 cents an hour.  That meant he would probably save up even more money to send her eventually but I let that slip out of my mind; I was more than overjoyed to be reunited with him.  As I think of it today, he probably did a lot better with me out of the shack, being fed at King’s.

Since the job of picking up taters was out of the question, I asked around the dorm for any ideas.  John McGovern was one of the handful of fellows who were vets; those who had come to King’s after having served two years in the Army.  Although he was a freshman like me, he was 20 while I was 18.  John had been hired by the cafeteria manager to oversee us younger guys who needed the work, too, so he was in charge of hiring and scheduling us.  For the most part, the cafeteria was run by adult non-students for the breakfast and lunch meals but, here and there, a student could fit in a couple hours around his class schedule.  I found my niche working mostly in the dishroom, chiefly on Saturdays and Sundays and mostly just for the evening meal.  This employment continued all throughout my King’s years and over time, I expanded to a lot of Friday nights, too, filling in for guys who wanted to go to social events.  I got out of the dishroom once in a while, serving food “on the line” and cleaning up there after the meal was over.  I even found myself serving as a waiter a few times, serving at faculty dinners.  Basically, I was John’s “ace in the hole”, for whenever or wherever he needed me, I was glad to fill in.  The pay was a little less than minimum wage, maybe 85 cents an hour, but it was enough to keep me in soda, chips, “girlie” magazines, and Beatles albums.

Knowing full well that I was failing Calculus and nearing the end of my first semester, I gave a lot of serious thought as to what my new major would be.  As a good little freshman, I approached the Guidance Department and they had me take an aptitude test.  I hadn’t encountered such a test before and saw it as a bit dumb.  I did my best, answering such questions as “Would you rather read a book or hoe the garden?” The test was sent somewhere off-premises to be scored and the results wouldn’t be back until after second semester started, so I was left with making a less-informed choice.  I honestly don’t know what made me think of Accounting but that was my choice. The counselors tried to dissuade me, saying, “But that’s got a lot of MATH!”  My reply was “Pooh; add, subtract, multiply, and divide with maybe some algebra thrown in along the way.  I ACED those in high school! Give me some real-world dollars to count instead of that theoretical Calculus crap and I’ll be OK.” I was maybe a month into Accounting when the results of the aptitude test came back and they bore out my choice.  In the world of aptitude tests there’s no such thing as “100 is the perfect score: it’s just that the higher you scored the better-suited you were to the various jobs. As it turned out, for jobs like accountant, banker, office clerk, or anything having to do with math-related bookwork, I scored in the 70’s and 80’s. The one result I will never forget was that,  for “physicist”, I got a “- 2” .  I would have never guessed that a NEGATIVE number was achievable but I sure did earn one! LOL! It clearly said to me ”Don’t even THINK about being a physicist!”

Second semester brought a change in my living arrangements.  It wasn’t because I had gotten into any trouble on the first floor. The college realized that they had inadvertently placed a freshman on a floor where there was no “overseer” to keep an eye on him.  I was moved to the top floor of Hafey-Marion, a sixth-floor room with two roommates.  I imagine that the room had been full for first semester but one had dropped out of school.  I don’t recall the name of one of my roomies, but the other was Hughie McGowan, from Yonkers, NY.  Like the unnamed roomie who had preceded him, Hughie, too, dropped out and I saw him no more after freshman year.  Hughie had been a goof-off who skipped a lot of classes. I remember him quite vividly, for he had a habit of talking in his sleep.  The other roomie and I used to hold “conversations” with him while he was fast asleep, much to our merriment. In one such “conversation”, Hughie thought he was playing basketball and we tried, in vain, to get him to pass the ball to us.

I was a step above Hughie because, at least, I DID attend class.  I really wasn’t into working too hard on homework, a trait that followed me all my four years.  I hadn’t done diddly squat at Lake-Lehman High School and had been content to finish18th out of 134.  During my entire King’s career, I continued my ways: listen closely in class, study just a wee bit, and settle for a “C”, save for the easiest courses. 

 Second semester transcript

 

Speech class was fairly simple and I gave my final presentation on the Battle Of Gettysburg, replete with visual aids outlining the order of battle.  Most memorable about that class was the one poor guy who had a bad stuttering problem. The professor hadn’t informed us about him and we, sad to say, initially, took his presentation to be a joke.  I still feel bad to this day about how we laughed at him.  When his second effort was no better, we realized how shoddily we had acted and began to root for him.

Philosophy was still a large mystery to me and I was lucky to get a “D”.

History and English were mildly interesting and a “C” satisfied me.

In French, I was introduced to Father James Boyle, a fully-fledged Holy Cross priest. He was a Wilkes-Barre area native and we soon gave him the nickname “le bon pere de Wilkes-Barre.” I aced his course, as usual, that semester; a trend that would continue through junior year as Father Boyle and I became “partners”. For a full seven semesters he taught me and I continued to earn “A’s” as long as the subject was just conversational French.  [In senior year, it turned to French literature and I HATED reading stories featuring words such as “helmet” and “spear” (“Chanson de Roland”) that I would never get to use in everyday conversation.  I got two ”B’s” senior year for an overall four-year average of 3.75 in French.]

My newly-chosen major, Accounting, was tough for the first few weeks until I got the hang of it: “debits” were toward the window and “credits” were toward the door. Had I done more homework, I probably could have earned a “B” but a “C” was good enough to keep me in that curriculum.

My fellow dormies were, almost exclusively, out-of-state fellows, mostly hailing from either New York or New Jersey but a few were from farther away.  One that I got along with the best was sophomore Joe Frankel, from Waco, Texas.  He had a rather warped sense of humor which matched mine.  We once found ourselves on an elevator amongst a group of “townies” headed for classes and I asked “Where ya headed,Joe?”  He replied “English turdy tree” and I came back with “What’s that?”  “That’s where they teach the brown-baggers to say ‘Amazing!’ instead of ‘No shit!’!” We were lucky to get off the elevator alive.

 A goodly number of dormies engaged in underage drinking and, initially, I didn’t join in.  They knew a few bars around downtown that weren’t too fussy about checking ID’s and they had money from home to spend.  I, of course, had to be much more careful with my hard-earned few dollars and besides, I didn’t particularly care for the taste of beer.  Back at grandpa’s house in the summer of 1958, Uncle Mike, the town drunk, had given me a sip of his beer and my 12-year-old taste buds had utterly rejected it.  Yuk!  All during my high school years, my buddies and I didn’t drink at all.  Now 18 and at King’s, Joe Frankel and I were on our way back to the dorm after trying to impress the local high school gals at a dance held in a second-floor ballroom on S. Main Street.  All that dancing had made us sweaty and THIRSTY!  LOL.  Joe knew of a bar just off the square on N. Main Street where the bartender didn’t bother to card youngsters if they’d buy him a beer or two.  Joe was drinking Stegmaier, a local beer brewed right up the hill on E. Market Street and I joined him. Wow, did that ever hit the spot!  Far from being distasteful, it was just the thing to start to quench my thirst.  From that day forth for about 30 more years, I devoutly partook of beer on a social basis until was I diagnosed as diabetic and gave up all alcohol.

Freshman year came to an end in May, 1965.  Although it had been my first year ever away from my Dad for any length of time, I hadn’t felt really homesick at all.  Golly, looking back at it now, I was GROWING UP!  Nearly 19 now, I felt no real compunction to spend the summer just lying around the Sweet Valley shack, mooching off Dad and I had learned that work really wouldn’t hurt me.  Besides, it felt good to, for the first time in my life, have a dollar or two in my jeans.

As an “adult” now, I did what other adults do – I went down to the unemployment office on E. Union Street which, I’d heard, could also be called the EMPLOYMENT office.  The counselor took one look at me and immediately came up with a job for me – caddy.  “You look sturdy enough to carry a golf bag!”  The job would be at the Skytop, a private club up in the Poconos outside Canadensis, about 50 miles from Wilkes-Barre.  I would have no need of daily transportation because I’d live right on the premises and two meals a day, breakfast and supper, were provided.  That sounded good enough to me so I headed back to Dad’s, packed up a few clothes, and hitched to the bus station in Wilkes-Barre.  The bus took me to Mount Pocono and I hitched the rest of the way to Skytop.

The caddy master’s name was Nick and he knew nothing at all about any “Help Wanted” ads being placed.  L Apparently, the club’s owners hadn’t told him.  Luckily, he agreed to take me on, even after he found out that I knew absolutely NOTHING about caddying.  I had lied a wee bit, telling him I’d had some experience at the 9-hole course in Lehman but he saw through that immediately as soon as I picked up my first bag.  I slung it over my back like a quiver of arrows rather than under my arm.  LOL.  I was then forced to admit that, at home, I had no running water, let alone a TV, and thus, really hadn’t watched golf on TV.  Seeing I was just a poor scholarship kid trying to make his way through college, he took pity on me and said “Stick around – I’ll teach you the basics when play has ceased for the afternoon.”  Over the space of just nine holes, I learned how to carry not one but TWO bags at once.  He taught me to never step on the line of or cast a shadow across an upcoming putt, to hold the flag against the stick so it wouldn’t flutter, and to stand well clear of a golfer’s swing when he was teeing off.  I also learned that a little white stake along the fairway indicated 150 yards to the green (a 5-iron for the average golfer) and where the out-of-bounds makers were.  The rest I would learn on-the-job.

The “caddy camp” was a bunkhouse along the fifth fairway.  There were maybe a dozen other caddies, mostly grown men who caddied year-round, including at Doral in Florida during the winter.  I got a kick listening to the stories about the pros they had “bagged” for at the Doral Open.  The oldest was “Casey the Bag Rat”, who was probably in his 70’s and had a drinking problem.  Only one other caddy was my age – a music major named John Riordan from West Chester State down near Philly and we spent a good deal of time in the evenings singing and composing new songs with his guitar.  I can still sing one that we wrote:  “The Ballad Of Gemini 5”, a folksy tune. 

 Nick and his wife lived in a house at the camp and she served our breakfast and dinner in a lunchroom equipped with two long picnic-style tables.  It also had a TV we could watch when off duty.  Nick’s wife would also prepare sandwiches, mostly ham and cheese or bologna that we could buy from her for maybe 35 cents each and take down to work with us.  We weren’t OBLIGED to buy them but I usually did, so as to keep on Nick’s good side.  The sandwiches, along with sodas and maybe a bag of chip from vending machines at the pro shop, constituted my lunch.

Reveille at the caddy camp was about 6 AM and, after breakfast, we’d be ready for duty at 7.  One thing I remember most vividly about mornings in the Pocono Mountains was how heavy the dew was.  By the time I’d cut across the fairways to the pro shop my sneakers were totally soaked, through and through.  Caddying was a 7 days-a-week job and, while weekend were busier than weekdays, we were never assured of jobs and a lot of hours were spent just hanging around the garage where the electric golf carts were parked.  Nick kept a roster of caddies available and we all got out proper turn unless a golfer asked for us.  It wasn’t unusual to spend HOURS at a time with absolutely nothing to do and I took to napping on a bench on the back porch.  Nick would give me hell and tell me to get back in the garage but, the very next day, I’d be back napping again. 

Each day, I got at least one “loop” (18 holes) and sometimes I’d get two loops.  The biggest days, I carried two bags for 2 and a half loops (45 holes).  Carrying two bags wasn’t THAT much more physical work than carrying one because they helped keep you balanced.  What DID take more effort were the “Holy Cross” golfers.  One would hit a hook and the other would slice a shot.  Back and forth, back and forth, I’d work my way up the fairway so that my total distance walked was WAY longer than the course’s overall tee-to-green rating.  I calculated that 36 holes, double, would be over 5 miles.  Husband-and-wife twosomes were the easiest to carrying double: just hand the wife a fairway wood and it’d take her about two more shots to reach where the hubby’s drive had landed! I really didn’t get totally exhausted but I did manage to lose about a pound a day.  I took my first day off after 3 weeks to hitch home and report to Dad and I found myself 21 pounds lighter than when I’d begun. 

The easiest work was when a foursome took two carts.  Skytop’s rules said that any such group had to employ a caddy, too.  My chief function was to keep them moving along so as to not slow down play all around the course.  Their bags were on the carts and all I had to do was carry four putters.  Without me, they’d tend to pitch onto the green and run up to see how close to the hole they’d landed.  They’d then have to run back to get their cart, move it, and bring their putter back with them.  With me, they could just walk up, swap their short iron for the putter, hole out, then swap clubs with me again, and only then drive the cart on to the next green.  I’d be on my way to “forecaddie”, i.e., position myself about halfway down the next fairway, which served two purposes.  Firstly, I could better tell when the preceding group had cleared the green and made it safe for my group to tee off.   Secondly, if they smacked their ball into the woods, I was much closer to where it landed and, by the time they’d carted up to me, I’d have found it, which saved their looking for it.

I think the caddy fee was $8 to carry a bag for one loop, so a double would earn me $16 and, if I was lucky and the golfer liked me, a tip.  Two double-toting loops in one day would be $32.  The few times I managed 45 holes in one day, the last loop was usually a single for $8.  Skytop was a fully-fledged resort and guests stayed for a week at a time, meaning they had to be fed, so Skytop also employed waitresses and busboys who lived on the premises.  They had a dormitory separate from the caddy camp and they also had a canteen in which to hang out, listen to music, and partake of alcohol.  I think I went to the canteen maybe twice but, not knowing a soul there, was pretty much of a wallflower and didn’t manage to fall in love with any waitresses at all. L   I didn’t spend much of my earnings at all, save for one trip to a theater in Canadensis to see “Cleopatra” for $2 in its second summer of release. Oh, and then, too, John and I bought some vodka and OJ to celebrate his leaving before me to return to West Chester.  We failed to measure the portions correctly for our screwdrivers and, near the end of the drinking bout, were pretty much just waving the OJ bottle over a glass of straight vodka.  I got sick as a dog and upchucked before work the next morning.

All during that summer, I think I carried a week’s worth of earning around with me in my wallet, for I didn’t trust the other caddies and dared not leave it in the bunkhouse.  Skytop had a small on-premises post office and, once a week, I’d buy a postal money order, make it out to myself, and mail it home to Dad.  I believe I saved about $350, which helped out a lot with sophomore year.

Ronald E. Hontz

33 Whitcraft Lane

Shrewsbury PA 17361

(717) 235-5791

cell phone (717) 309-1402

e-mail: Sweetvalleykid@gmail.com

Home