College & the Beginning of the End of Innocence

After High School I was enrolled in the Business Administration courses at Northeastern University. That was to be a five year course, with every other semester placements in “cooperative educational” opportunities in the business world. That fall after enrolling, came December 7th, and the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The next morning friends crowded around the radio in our Boston apartment to hear President Roosevelt declare a “day that will live in infamy”, and we knew our lives were changed.
Enlisting, we were told that we would be called to active duty when needed, but that it was good that we gain as much education as possible.

Northeastern University in the early 40’s was confined to two or three buildings, including use of the Boston YMCA for some classes. Business Administration courses taught me Finance, Bookkeeping, Commercial Law, other subjects which continued me toward the business career my father outlined. During those two years, at one point my father took me to meet some men who were prominent in a national insurance firm with which he was affiliated. I remember a discussion when he and they described to me the plan for me upon graduation. I was to be trained in a national office, sent to various offices to gain experience in other parts of the country, then to be brought back to the central office for appointment. The future seemed to be clearly defined, and I never questioned the plan.

My “co-op” job at Northeastern was in the office of the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction, 33 Degree Masons of the United States, Mexico, and Canada. The work was a preparation for nothing, as I was a glorified office boy doing little of significance, but being introduced to some very powerful, influential white men. The title of the executive head gives a sense of the self-assumed importance felt in the office: my top boss was called the Most Puissant Sovereign Grand Master !!!! Both the arrogance, and the comedy of that title was lost on my pre-war naivete.

The coming of the war meant for me less than two years of student life at Northeastern. Aside from studies I did become involved in the University debate team. The team was composed mostly of upper class men, though as a Freshmen I was allowed to appear in intercollegiate debates a couple of times. I joined a small, local fraternity which provided a good place to live, and opportunity to form friendships. Still, the war coming so quickly, divided and sent us apart, and most of those friendships were not recovered after the war.

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