There was a news feature this afternoon bemoaning the fact that college students were missing out on the best social time of their lives because of the pandemic. They can’t mingle, they can’t meet new people, they can’t go to frat parties. I find that interesting because I had none of that anyway and I survived.
I did not go to college, although I did take piano lessons at Chicago Musical College and met some phenomenal people, mostly gay, but great company, just unavailable.I met Donald Gramm, who went on to become an opera star. John Rockwell of The New York Times said "He had an unusually rich, noble tone, and although its volume may not have been large, it penetrated even the biggest theaters easily. Technically, he could handle bel-canto ornamentation fluently. But his real strengths lay in his aristocratic musicianship (impeccable phrasing that he polished by accompanying himself at the piano, and an easy command of five languages) and his instinctive acting." Among the most notable of his many operatic roles were the title role in Verdi's Falstaff, Leporello in Mozart's Don Giovanni, and Dr. Schön and Jack the Ripper in Berg's Lulu. (Gramm died of a heart attack in New York City on June 2, 1983. He was 56 years old.)
When we weren’t glued to our instruments we’d go to great bars on Chicago’s Near North Side. I had red wine and steak for the first time ever.
At each stage of my young life, I’d have one friend and we’d be inseparable. Grammar school, one friend. High school, one friend. My neighbor, Glorida and I were close for several years. When we met, she was 14, I was 11. She liked being dominant. I liked that an older girl liked me. One of her friends, Betty, had a mother who took care of wayward girls. I met them between pregnancies at her parties. Betty, was 17, newly married, got a job stripping, said she had to hide it from her husband. Later they divorced and she met a much older man who had money. I lost track of her. Betty had brothers. I kept away from them.
And when I was sixteen I met and became engaged to a young Italian guy. He was killed. I don’t want to talk about it although I have written about him in the past. I stay in touch with his sister. But she is 94 now and doesn't hear well. I have just written her.
I can’t say I missed out not going to a regular college. I met a wide range of people, was exposed to different classes, different cultures.I learned that being an executive didn't mean you were cultured, or smart. I wouldn’t go back and change things. I actually loved my childhood, even though it was lonely at times. What saved me was that I trusted myself.