A college kid told my band’s guitarist he went to Columbia University, and my guy said, “Where’s that?”
That knocked the college boy back a few SAT points.
College quiz question: What college narrowly missed being in the original Ivy League football conference?
Answer: Colgate University.*
Another fact: Yiddishe Cup once shared the bill with the Colgate glee club at a Cleveland wedding.
More: Former MIT folk dancers are a solid market for Yiddishe Cup. Yiddishe Cup has played several simchas for MIT folk dancers.
Regionally speaking, I was loyal to Ohio State for many years. My dad took me to Ohio State homecoming games every year. My father lived in a corner of Ohio Stadium, in the scholarship dorm, the Tower Club, which was actually a barracks with cots. My dad often said some of the gentiles at Ohio State, back in the 1930s, thought Jews had horns.
A New Jersey woman — a potential bar mitzvah customer — called me and said, “I went to Ohio U. in the 1980s. All the kids from Mentor and Madison [Ohio] thought I had horns.”
The Buckeye marching band had horns. (Horns and percussion. No clarinets.)
The only time my father yelled at a TV was when Ohio State played Cincinnati for the 1961 basketball championship. Who won? [Cincinnati, 70-65.]
I attended a college-rejection shiva. The shiva — at Corky & Lenny’s restaurant in April 1968 — was for a friend who was rejected by every college he applied to. He got in nowhere! He was ranked fifth, or so, in our high school class, but every college turned him down because the high school guidance counselor didn’t like him and wrote a negative recommendation. (He was way too political for my school.)
We sat in the corner booth at C&Ls and drank chocolate phosphates, commiserating with our friend. We were all in somewhere, and he wasn’t.
He eventually got accepted to Ohio State on a late application. Back then, if you had a heartbeat you could get into OSU. He wound up in an OSU high-rise dorm with 16 guys per suite. It wasn’t anything like the house system at Harvard.
I knew a college counselor at University School, a private boys’ school in Cleveland. If the counselor put in a good word for you, you were in. Harvard, Yale, you name it. Harvey Mudd. Deep Springs.
The counselor didn’t believe his own myth. Go to a school that was a “good fit,” he said. (“Good fit” was the watchword of college counselors.) This counselor went to Harvard, a “good fit” for a college counselor.
Here’s a tip for high school kids: on your application, focus on something esoteric. Write: “I want to be a klezmer musician because it is the cornerstone of my existence.” Describe a setback you have faced. “My parents don’t like klezmer music. They are so wrong. I’ve been thinking about klezmer my whole life.”
No guarantees, but give it a try.
*The statement about Colgate narrowly missing out on the Ivy League football conference may be apocryphal.
OSU Tower Club residents, 1937. Click on the photo to make it bigger. “Tower Club,” a sign, is on the stadium entrance to the left of “Toby.”)