Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Multiple addresses on Stowell Avenue

This was so long ago that some of the events are scrambled in order.  They all happened but I have trouble with the sequence at times.  Getting old, trauma, wishing, and hindsight all contribute to this.

The End of 1962

This is when my life really started.  High school graduation in June.  Mary Ann came.  Steve Keidl and I had identical schedules in the fall at UW-M.  He drove.  Such a good friend.  Started Pershing Rifles (made it) in ROTC.  Triangle fraternity (did not make it).  I left the Catholic Church.


1963 – January to May

Flying back from Logan Field in Boston to Mitchell Field in Milwaukee started my new life in the UW-M dormitory: Stowell House.  I had two roommates on the third floor.  Larry Loh was one.  I forget the other, Bill someone.  These were typical, 2½ story little brick houses immediately to the south of the campus.  The housemother was Mrs. Thompson -- who was immediately suspicious of me.  Maybe that is just poor memory or paranoia.  The dining room was in the south house.  We took turns at kitchen duty.

The End of Mary Ann (Almost)

I was not homesick.  You know by now that that was not a possibility.  My first semester was a 2.8 grade point.  Not bad considering 28 class hours, Pershing rifles, pledging Triangle fraternity, commuting, and trying unsuccessfully to keep up with Mary Ann.  Mary Ann dropped me that semester.  I crashed.

I learned about the lower class later in life.  Oops.  There is a sequence here that sounds like I am demeaning a social group.  I am not.  People in the lower economic class who want to better themselves will do many things to accomplish this.  In most respects this is good.  Rich people have no such concern and middle class people know that hard work has its rewards.  The middle class kid knows that it is his choice to move up, down, or stay the same.  How much education and how much effort.

Mary Ann’s family was financially on the short side.  I loved her mother (hated her cooking).  Her father.  Well, he was a skeptic and I distrusted fathers.  Mary Ann was determined to marry a hard-working person who would be able to keep up a better life style than she had grown up in.  This is a good thing.  Wanting to improve yourself is always good.

My problem was that I had no such ambition.  I had grown up in an environment where money seemed the root of everything I disliked.  I wanted to be an auto mechanic.  A high-paid auto mechanic such that I had enough money to get by but no more than that.  And that is, in fact, the story of my life.  A computer is just a machine.  A machine that I could understand and make do wonderful things.  The first one was at an automobile manufacturer.

Back to point.  Mary Ann wanted more ambition than I had.  She was also in high school and I was in college.  Our lives no longer overlapped.  Once she moved out of Wauwatosa they never really did overlap.  It took all of my time and money to ride the bus and later to drive to her apartment house.  By the time I was in college, she was seeing other boys and enjoying her popularity.  I did not know this but then the bus from UW-M to her house was a couple of hours each way on days I could get there.  She also thought I had a crush on Bonnie Ustruck.  Bonnie was a very beautiful girl but she was sort of Johnnie’s girl.  They belonged to a faster crowd than I could live with.

In any case, she told me she had a new boy friend and that she no longer wished to see me at all.  For the next couple of years I would drop by and see her or her and her mother but it was a lost cause.  There would be no third time around.

I was sort of slow on the sex side.  I mean as much as I wanted to, I never even spent time necking with Mary Ann.  I do not think we ever even kissed.  There was one time.  Here is as good of place as any.  That I was over at her house and she took me into the garage at the back of the lot.  Johnny and Bonnie were necking.  Some other couple was necking.  I think three couples altogether.  I thought that this was crass: necking in public.  Not really public but in front of other people.  I ran out.  Mary Ann was furious.  Not because I did not want to touch her.  Oh, how I wanted to do that.  She was furious because she thought that I was envious of her brother necking with Bonnie.  I never knew where that came from.

The End of Pershing Rifles

About this time the military recruiters were heavy on campus.  ROTC was required the first semester but after that it was voluntary.  Mary Ann had gone with me during the initiation at the end of the first semester.  Now there was a problem.  I had little motivation.  The meds kept me from any activity.  Getting to the armory was hard because I now had to take the bus from campus.  I lived in the dorm and Steve lived in Wauwatosa.  I could get a ride back to campus.  I slept a lot in my first period, Mrs. Smith’s English Composition.

I looked to the future.  The Army seemed boring.  I signed up for the Marine Officer Candidate School.  I would finish ROTC as usual but would join the Marines rather than the Army.  What a deal.  I took the physical.  I passed.  They showed me the contract to sign.  In those days I read all of all contracts.  There was a clause that spelled out what my years of service would be.  Then there was a clause that said that they, at their whim, could extend those years up to twenty.  I stopped.  This was for real.  Twenty years.  They said a national disaster would have to be ongoing for that to happen.  That had only happened once before: Korea.  I thought another Korea likely so I went home to the dorm.  The next day I went to the Army ROTC office and looked at their contract.  I would not have to sign it for two more years but it was the same exact wording.  I turned in my stuff.  I kept the Pershing Rifles armband, my couple of ribbons, and my purchased insignia.  They got the rest.  They are all gone now.  I kept a Pershing Rifles ribbon until it was stolen in the RV theft.

The End of Triangle Fraternity

I tried pledging Triangle.  I bit off a lot that year.  No one told me that Pershing Rifles was a fraternity.  It was just an extension of ROTC.  Triangle was the engineering fraternity.  The main chapter was in Madison and their branch in Milwaukee.  They tried real hard for me to make it but there was just too much on my plate and with Mary Ann gone, no motivation.  I dropped pledging Triangle.  Sorry, Dennis and others.

The Newman Center

I bought a book at the university book store, I forget the book, and was reading it at the Catholic Newman Center.  I was informed that Father Kriege had better not see this book as it was on the Church condemned book list.  I returned to the university book store and exchanged the book for Descartes Meditations.  I was informed that this was also on the list.  I started reading at home.

Armando Triana

Armando is/was from Cuba.  He never let me forget that.  Armando was an exchange student from the University of Puerto Rico.  There were 3 other such exchange students -- those probably not from Cuba.  When I introduced Armando as an exchange student from Puerto Rico, he would correct the introduction and tell everyone he was from Cuba.  In those days saying you were from Cuba was tantamount to saying you had rabies but Armando was proud of his heritage.  His English was good.  His Cuban better.  I mention Armando here because I always believed that he would become a famous politician.  He seriously wanted his family and others to be able to return to their homeland and restore its econpmy and lifestyle.

In the Spring around Easter just when it was getting warmer, Armando told me that he had always wanted to make a snowman.  This was at breakfast and he was sad that his wish would go unfulfilled.  It was late in the season and we had just had a fresh snow.  A small snow but it was real snow -- less than 2 inches.  Armando, the three friends, and I built a snowman.  We ran off to the drug store, Rennebaum's I think was the name to buy some film for the camera.  When we returned some neighbor kids had smashed the snowman into little peices.  This was a disaster.  In 15 minutes our attempt to show the people at home part of our life up north was smashed into the same little pieces.  This was a part of life in the USA of which I could not be proud and did not want to be returned to his family.  There was not enough snow in the two yards to build a new snowman.  We had used it all up.  I was ready to cry.  Cubans and Latinos do not cry but I think would have liked to.  There would not be another snow this yeat (I was wrong about that) and they would go home in June.  I was also angry.  I went back to the dining room and motivated my dormmates into action.

Most of them thought I was overly sentimental.  But some went outside, gathered snow from neighboring yards and built a new snowman.  We got a picture of us 5.  Oh, 6 -- including the snowman.  I kept that photo for years.  It was also one of the photos missing from the RV theft.  Armando stood out in the photo as the tallest and with the biggest smile.  I think he was wearing red.  Someone was wearing red.  It was a colorful picture.  The smile was big.  Now I was proud to be an American.

One day I took Armando to visit Karen and Georgeanne Holgersen.  We went to the local park for tennis.  The court gate was locked but the fence was not real tall.  Armando did something that really caught me off guard.  Or I should say caught the girls.  We were young and it was a long time ago. It is OK to call them girls.  I climbed the fence and waited as Armando first lifted Karen and tossed her over the fence.  I caught her.  Then he did the same for George. George was his date and she was taller than Karen. I was impressed.  I am sure no one was impressed by my tennis.

Armando is this very tall Latino who seemed somewhat shy but had a powerful personality.  Unlike me, he did not talk much.  Maybe because I did not speak Cuban.  Cuban is Spanish in the same way that Austrian is German.  That is to say, the Austrians say they are speaking Germen but the Germans know better.  Look up the word for "dogs" if you do not believe me.  It is a common word.  But Armando.  Where did he learn to use his strength like that?.  We walked home from downtown.  The bus from Karen's took us downtown and we walked home from there.  It was very late at night by then and we might wait hours for the 30 or 15 bus to take us back home.  We passed a drunk just as we turned north on the other side of the river.  I do not know what that neighborhood is like now but then it was a dangerous place  in the daytme.  And now it was not daytime.  Armando did not worry about such things.  The drunk asked for a dime for coffee.  Armando would not give him the dime but he would go with the man to a litlle all night diner on the same street for a bowl of stew.  The drunk declined.  Armando had trouble understanding.  And it was not a language problem.  It was a culture problem.  I think he understood but it hurt.  Armando really wanted to help.  I really wanted to get home safely before we attracted attention we did not want.

I asked Armando about tossing the girls over the fence.  He said he was a 6th degree black belt.  These days there are black belts everywhere.  And there are more ways to get them.  Then it was just Judo or some variuant also starting with the letter 'J'. There was no higher level of black belt as far as I knew.  I was shocked.  Sort of like opening your closet door and discovering a bear inside.  I asked how many such people at this level there were.  I forget the number he quoted -- I remember it as 10.  He also said he was acquainted with most of them or at least knew who they were.  My friend, the grizzly bear in sheeps clothing who was sentimental about a snowman to show his family. 

I do not know how things are politically today but he told me then about his family's escape from Cuba -- some were killed by Castro.  I think Armando knew Castro personally but if so, he had been pretty young -- but his family had been that close.  The closeness was the reason for the need to leave in a hurry.

Wherever you are today, Armando, I am sure that you and your family have made themselves known and I am proud to have been your friend a long time ago.  I know, don't talk.  Eat.  Some day.  Not today.  I shall be able to talk with you in Spanish.  Hoy no. Tal vez dos años mas.  Digo a mis amigos necesito dos vidas más pero para usted trataré en dos años más.  Manda me, por favor.

Dr. Veit and Mr. Trentadue

Since my high school senior year I had been seeing my father-designated psychiatrist, Dr. Henry Veit (my high school friend Kirk’s father) and his associate Mr. Trentadue.  Sorry, I forget his first name.  Moreover I had been taking the pills they prescribed.  They took me off the Thorazine and put me on Tofranil/Taractin.  I may have the spelling wrong.  In the spring I stopped taking these.  My father sent me a subsistence allowance and on the condition I saw his psychologist and not take a job.

Mr. Trentadue had me going to his house on weekends to tutor his son, Scott, in Algebra.  Scott was bright and really did not need tutoring: he just needed a confidence boost.

I do not remember the details but I ended up there one day having taken one of the pills after having not done so for a while.  I could not stay awake: Mr. Trentadue drove me home.  Later I discovered that these pills did strange things when mixed with alcohol.  I got so drunk that I had delusions that I could fly.  I fell down the entire flight of stairs, twice.  I fell asleep in my mash potatoes at dinner and went into hysterics when someone dumped cold water into the shower.  Mrs. Thomas tried to have me expelled.  I saw Dean Stamotakos in the morning.  He permitted me to remain in school.  He also investigated my entry into Triangle.

Wow.  All at once.  Mary Ann had dropped me.  I was crushed.  I mean I had nothing left.  My grades would go to to 1.8 and I went on probation (I never got off probation).  I gave up upon Triangle.  Nice guys but I am not a fraternity person.  Mary Ann referred me to the mother superior at her high school, Pius on 76th street.  I went to see her.  I had given up my Monday evening visits to Father Murphy at Christ King Church at 92nd and Center.

The concept of the pope and the dogmatic beliefs of the Catholic Church that nobody seemed to understand were not helping at a time that I needed help.  I saw the mother superior.  She told me two things: that Mary Ann was a flirt and a user and to forget her ASAP.  The other was that I should leave the church as it was causing me serious emotional damage.  Huh?  I felt I had a good relationship with God.  The problem was that it did not match the teaching of the church.  If I did what I thought God wanted, it violated the church rules.  If I followed the church, I violated my own conscience.  I was guilty either way.  I walked out of the school that day feeling better than I had in my entire life.

It snowed on the first of June on my last day of exams as I flew back to Boston for the summer.

1963 – Summer in Boston

1963 – Mrs. Scobie and the Fall Semester

When I returned to the University in the fall of 1963 for the start of my second year, my father had told me that an administrative mix-up kept me from the 30-man, 2-house, dormitory.  This was not really the case.  In fact I had been banned by the housemother, Mrs. Thompson.  After unsuccessfully searching for a room to rent, I returned to the Housing office and burned the ear of the Housing Director, Mr. Berry.  He could have just turned me away but instead called me into his office, explained the situation and helped me find a room.  He also told me that if I behaved myself and if there were an opening, he would see that I was back in the dorm at the semester.  At the semester, he had me admitted back into the dorm.


1964 – Sophomore Spring Semester

1964 – Summer of Freedom

It snowed on the last day of exams.

At the end of the second semester, my grandmother told me to not go back to my parents.  What to do?  I returned to Milwaukee and Mr. Berry gave me a maintenance job for the Housing office for the summer.

Savic’s House

I then found a room to rent.  I rented the back bedroom on the second floor of the Savics.  This was a Serbian family with another one of those wooden houses on Stowell a little closer than Mrs. Scobie’s.  They had a black and white dog that did not like me very much.  My entry was through the back door and I think he always thought back-door people suspicious.  They also had a fifteen-year-old daughter names Susie.  Pretty, precocious, and had a habit of liking the college boys that rented rooms.  I paid ten dollars a week rent and another for linens.


The summer job paid $2.00 per hour.  This was the maximum permitted a student.  Additionally, a student could earn a maximum of $250 per month.  I think that these were the numbers.  I really forget.  The real problem was the first and second month.  A month went from the fifteenth to the fifteenth.  There was a month delay.  I worked the first month for one week.  I got paid nothing in June.  In July, I got paid for the one week in June.  In August, I got paid the maximum: $250.  Which I sent to my mother.

I had the original airfare that I cashed.  My mother sent me $15 per week as a loan.  The August paycheck paid part of the loan.  The September paycheck finished paying the loan.  I had worked hard enough that I had backlogged paychecks for November and December.  I started school in September so I needed this money.

The $15 left me hungry.  The room was $10.  Linens were $1.  Bus fare to see my father’s psychiatrist was $1.25.  Laundry was $1.25.  This left me with $1.50.  I immediately spent $1 for bread, liverwurst, and cheese.  This was my food for the week.  I lost 30 pounds that summer and learned to show up at peoples houses at dinner time hoping for a meal.  Savics fed me about once a week.  I swore that when this was finished, I would never be so broke as to not afford food ever again.

There were vending machines in the dorms.  I always checked the coin returns and pulled the handles.  This was good for a soda or a candy bar every day.  I think my co-workers knew how hungry I was but it was never brought up.  By lunchtime I would have either my own sandwich or something from the machines.

During the summer, I kept my bag of food in one of the large refrigerators in the Holton basement.  These would have been used by the kitchen but they were in an unsecured room next to it.  This room was available to anyone in the building and the Peace Corps Trainees would steal anything unattached.  We get to them soon.  The cooks did have secured freezers and refrigerators to these stayed empty.  Except for my bag.  This rarely lasted a week.  Sometime during the week, it would be stolen.  Then I was really hungry.  The cooks knew I was hungry.  They offered me food and meals.  I was not too proud to take them but I did not unless I was desperate. I felt like I was cheating Mr. Berry if I took his food.  But I learned to hate the Peace Corp.  I understand very much how war prisoners are controlled by food.

The Job

This was an interesting job.  He first assigned me to the most remote of the girls dorm to do yard work.  I trimmed grass -- with hand shears for a week.  It was a giant lawn.  Then he had me move furniture, mop floors, fix wall circuits, placate ocelots.  Ocelots?  Later.  Besides giving me a spiritual lift, the job gave me muscles.  The muscles in my forearms looked like I had inserted golf balls into them. These developed into tennis balls.  Those hand-trimmers make for serious hand exercise.

You have to understand.  Trimming around trees and other things in this yard really made the yard look good.  This was a mansion overlooking Lake Michigan right where the Lake Drive curves up from the lake and becomes Kenwood Boulevard.  It had 31 bedrooms from small 2-girl dorm room sized to a master bedroom the size of a large apartment.  There was my favorite bedroom that I think was originally a den.  It had a beautiful fireplace and looked out the back of the house on the second floor through the tops of the woods below and across the lake.  The sunrises were spectacular from here.

So we have the back of the house looking down into a small forest to the lake shore.  We have a South entrance from the lake drive that is gated and never used.  Next to the South gate is the stables.  Which were also not used but would be a series of garages.  There was space for an apartment above the stables that I presume were servants’ quarters.  The name of this mansion was Kenwood Hall.  There was another mansion a couple of blocks closer to the University that was called McClaren Hall.  This was sort of confusing because the Kenwood Hall was owned originally by the McClarens.  It was a wedding gift from the bride’s father.  He owned Pabst Brewery at one time.  I understand that this house with all of the bedrooms was owned by a couple who had no children.  This of course, is folk lore.  You never know the truth about such things.

In any case, the front lawn and the circular drive to the front door were the stuff that movies are made from.  There was a limestone swimming pool in the middle of the front yard.  It was filled-in as the University did not need that kind of liability nor the expense of maintaining a pool.

Since the South entrance was blocked, entry was through the north gate.  This was a one-block road parallel to Kenwood that was a plank road.  I had always thought of plank roads as made from planks.  That is, long boards  of some width and not very thick.  This was not the case.  These were oak sections square and, if I remember correctly, about 4” on a side.  These were planted vertically so that you looked at an array of cross-grained oak segments.  In better days, it probably looked beautiful.  Now there were random asphalt patches.  You could dream of what it was.  Or at least, I could.

Inside was a beautiful oak debutante stairway to the second floor.  The kitchen was expansive.  The basement was dank.  The house and stables and yard looked like something out of a novel.  I loved Kenwood Hall.  But the cost of having someone trim the lawn around the trees was prohibitive.  I think Mr. Berry gave me this just to see if I was really going to work for him or if I would walk away.  Maybe it was Mr. Miller’s idea.  I never gave it a thought at the time.  I just clipped grass and was happy for the food.

In two weeks I left lawn care and was promoted to general handy man.  I never got to trim the grass again and looked at it every week as it needed more trimming.

Mr. Berry was empire-building.  Not that he was an empire-builder.  He was just the right man for the job at the time that the university needed to grow.  You have to understand how these institutions grow.  The original University as I saw it was sprouting a new concrete building every year or so.  We had the new giant student union.  We had the new fine arts building.  We had the old Main building that was now primarily departments without new homes and administration.  The IBM computer was in its basement. 

The University had three mansion-sized houses in the area which were girls’ dorms and 2 small, regular houses which together were the boys’ dorm.  The university also owned several other houses on neighboring streets.  This is how a university grows.  Once a street was owned by the University or at least almost owned, the state condemns the street and a new building goes go up.  UW-M was not unique in this mechanism.  The University of Indiana – South Bend, did the same thing.

There was another way to grow.  The university had just purchased the Downer Girls Seminary.  This had been a girls’ college and sat on the 40 acres to the north of the University.  There was a ten-acre parking lot.  A ten-acre woods and the rest was buildings.  Mr. Berry moved his offices into the north wing of Holton Hall.  He now had room to grow.

Kenwood Hall became an executive conference center.   McClaren Hall became sort of an executive hotel.  I have no idea what happened to Stowell House or Marietta House.  Now we had real dorms with real hallways and real floors. Oh.  And on the corner of Kenwood and Downer: right on the corner there was an apartment house.  This was owned by the University.

So.  What did the Housing Office maintain?  We still had the original houses.  We had the apartments.  We had 3 dorms on the Downer Campus.  They built the new dorm after I left and it will not be mentioned as they destroyed the woods to build it.  I remember Sabin.  It was a nicer dorm than Holton.  I do not remember the name of the other dorm.  It was connected to Holton through a basement corridor.  We maintenance men lived in basement corridors, rooms, and attics.

The staff was varied.  Mr. Berry had a diffuse group under him.  He had the house mothers.  One for each dorm.  He had a few people as office staff.  Not many.  He had the maids.  They had a supervisory maid, Mrs. Miller.  He had the cooks.  They had a supervisory cook.  He had Mr. Miller.  Mr. Miller was the nicest, gruffest, bald-headed man that you could ever want for a boss.  He was my boss.  The department owned one old, green, stick-shift, pickup truck.  That was it.  In each house or building we had a place that was ours.  The main place that was ours was a room in the Holton Hall basement corridor.  This is where I reported to work each morning unless I was assigned elsewhere.  Mr. Miller had two full-time civil-service people working for him.  One was a heavy-set, jovial fellow who could get along with anyone.  At some point, he became the University Steam Fitter.  But not yet.  I forget his name.  The other fellow was an uncouth, cigar-smoking, fellow who did not shave as often as he should.  His name was Ralph.

Bed Sheets

This is not important but it leads to a defect in my character.  I am always critical.  It has taken me almost sixty years to back off.  I have found that my criticisms of other people are very short-sighted.  When I honk at someone obstructing the road, I often find they are waiting for another person or car or ambulance or dog.  I try to not honk any more.

In any case, I was making beds one day for Mrs. Miller and I complained that if the linen people had folded the sheets consistently lengthwise that we would have a much easier job of making the beds.  I mean when we folded sheets in when working together, folding lengthwise was by far the easiest way to do it.  She told me that there were other considerations than ease of making the bed.  It took me a long time to understand.  I understood the first time I folded sheets by myself: then it is far easier to fold them crosswise.  When you are trying to keep the sheet from touching the floor all by yourself, making the bed is not your primary concern.

It seems that every time I have something to complain about, I have to remember the incident with the sheets and thank Mrs. Miller for her patience.


I must tell you about Ralph.  I did not enjoy working with Ralph because he stared at the girls and you could tell that he was thinking thoughts that were not good thoughts for a man working in a girls’ dorm.  Maybe I was the one with the off-base thoughts.  You see, men go into girl’s and women’s halls, bedrooms and bathrooms.  The rule was that went you entered the floor, you yelled “man on floor”, waited a few seconds for some scampering, and then walked down the hall.  There were always propriety issues.  I could never enter a girl’s room without a fellow worker.  Preferably also male but one of the maids was acceptable.  Oh.  The civil service maids had student help.  Mr. Miller had other student help but we did not cross paths much.  Don’t ask me why.  I think I was well liked because Mr. Berry thought well of me and I would work at whatever I was told.  The two-man rule was necessary to prevent accusations of misbehavior or theft.  The girls would tease us men.  Even when they knew we were on the floor, some would walk around with little or no clothes.  Often at least insufficient clothes.

Back to Ralph.  One day Ralph and I were walking through the basement corridor carrying a mattress or box spring.  This is a dormitory:  carrying beds is what you do when working in a dormitory.  A girl that we knew lived on second-floor Holton walked by and said hello.  Not a problem except Ralph dropped his end of the mattress.  He was in front.  I nearly fell on my face trying to land only on the mattress as I tripped and fell.  Ralph was staring past me at the backside of the girl who was wearing only a sweatshirt.  No shoes.  No pants.  No shorts.  Bare.  Me.  I had not noticed.  Maybe if I had been in front but I don’t think so.  You have to learn to not notice if you are going to live with girls.

About the end of the summer, we lost Ralph.  A girl accused him of attempted rape.  I think it was the same girl.  In any case, Ralph violated the primary rule and entered her room with the invitation to change her ceiling light bulb.  What happened next is a matter only known to Ralph and the girl.  I have my own opinion.  He could easily have been fired -- the union supported Ralph and he was transferred out of Housing and into the Garage.  One less cigar.

The Ocelot

The university apartment house was home to the Peace Corp teachers.  One Indian couple needed a babysitter for the summer.  I got Susie, the teenage daughter, the job.  Two kids.  Easy.  One day she called me at work in total panic.  The little boy was in the hall playing with a leopard.  Mr. Miller, the crew boss, let me borrow the truck and off I ran.  I got to the second floor and sure enough, the little boy was playing with a leopard in the hall.  I distracted the beast, grabbed the little boy, and toe into the apartment whose door Susie had been crouching behind.  I called Mr. Miller who called Mr. Berry.  It was not really a leopard.  Only an ocelot.  But it was a big ocelot and when you see one in the hallway does it matter to the youth of Milwaukee who have never been to the jungles of Brazil?

The ocelot belonged to one of the Brazilian teachers as a pet.  Should we have known that it was lonely and just wanted to play?  The Brazilian couple was told to get rid of the ocelot.  The following week, we got a call from a girl on the third floor of Holton Hall.  I ran over to find her sitting on the floor with her mouth going and her arms waving but no sounds coming out.  Other girls surrounded her.  This was the cleaning team for the building.  Another girl gave the story.  The two of them (even girls were only permitted in Federal student rooms in pairs) entered the room and this leopard had jumped off the bed and attacked them.  It was our friend the ocelot again:  the attack was just a jump to the door to meet the strangers.  The Brazilian teachers had given the ocelot to a couple of students.  This time the ocelot was taken off campus.  I know not where.

Mr. Berry was a cool customer but I would not have wanted to be acrossed from him at his desk that day.


I was transferring to Madison.  Was doing this for a couple of reasons.  They had a prestigious math department there and I had become a math major.  Secondly I had broken my wrist and Madison had a health plan.  Milwaukee did not.  My father had told me that I was no longer covered on his health insurance and so getting it fixed was on my own.  It hurt.  Sometimes I bit my wrist so hard when in bed that my wrist bled.  As a janitor a broken wrist made for performance problems.

I had other problems.  This summer the dorms were full of Peace Corps people.  We had taken over the girls’ school next to UW-M.  The good beds were moved to our dorms and the not-so-good beds moved into the acquired dorms.  This is 300 beds, box springs, and frames swapped between dormitories.  The dorms were three stories high and there was no usable elevator.  The rooms also had to be cleaned between the moves.  The girl maid team took care of the cleaning.  Us men took care of the moving.  All 4 of us.  We walked up and down those stairs all week each time up or down with a mattress on our back.  Down and Up.  Finally on the last day, the Peace Corp Trainees started moving in.  The others and I were sitting on the top stairs in Holton with our last mattress when the first trainee appeared on the stairway.  Nothing in his hands.  He looked at us and said that if he had to climb those stairs every day he would quit now.  We would have given anything to climb those stairs just once that week with no mattress.  Wimp.

My Painting

During the cleaning many things were discovered that the previous tenants (girls) had left behind.  One was a double-sided painting.  On one side was an abstract of vases and flowers.  On the other was an Oriental woman with blue and green background.  I claimed it and took it down to my room.  My room?

Mr. Berry had offered me free room and board if I would stay in one of the dorms as caretaker for the year.  This was a really great offer.  The dorm was Kenwood Hall overlooking Lake Michigan.  Any bedroom I wanted.  I had one picked out.  But I could not stay.  As an alternative, Mr. Berry offered me one of the rooms in an empty hallway in Holton.  Not quite empty.  The Housing Offices were at the other end of the hall.  There were three empty rooms. Filthy.  And a bathroom.  Pick a room, clean it, and it was mine.  My sister Kathie, Jeanie Udovc, and myself spent the evening cleaning and furnishing it.  On holiday and other weekends I was to come and work for him at my convenience.  With my broken wrist that never happened.

But one of the Peace Corp Trainees stole my painting.  From my room.  We knew who it was.  The maids saw the painting hung in his room.  I could not have it back.  It was not really mine.  It did not have my name on it.  The whole staff was angry but we could not touch anything in the possession of a federal student.  It changed rooms several times that summer.  The girls watched it.  One day, the current owner left it in the hallway while he cleaned his room.  The girls called me.  I ran over, walked down the hall, lifted the painting, and hid it one the roof of the elevator.  I returned to mopping the basement floor.  One of my jobs there.  The guy came screaming down and accused me of stealing his painting.  I said I had not stolen his painting.  He threatened me with harm but left.  Mr. Berry asked me later, in a carefully worded question, if I had stolen that man’s possessions.  I declared that I had not.  The next day, while mopping the Holton basement floor, the guy came down and apologized.  He had a broken arm and had to drop out of the Peace Corps.  He had accused me to the wrong person.  I had an idea who but no one ever admitted to it.  The painting remained in the elevator for a week before I took it off campus to safety.  Oh.  The elevator in Holton Hall that we could not use for the mattresses?  It was a manual elevator.  It had a rope that you pulled on one side or the other to go from floor to floor.  It had entrance doors that looked like room doors.  It was too small for a mattress.  It was off limits except to the maintenance crew and I am sure was eventually off limits to every one.  It was dirty and dangerous.  And safe to hide things on the top of.

<>I started the fall term in Madison and returned frequently to my room in Milwaukee.  This room was my sanctum sanctorum.  I could study all weekend and no one would bother me.  Holton became a girl’s dorm.  I had to keep the same hours as the girls.  During the school year when I was not working, I had no privileges on entry and exit.  I think it took almost the end of the semester for the girls to discover where I went when I signed in at night.  I never worked those weekends.

<>But. We are talking about Madison and Sellery Hall here and that is a different page.<>

Suggestions?  Questions?  Comments?  Push the Home/eMail above.
Written:  2003          Updated: October 13, 2007                Back To Top