what if I’d made a different decision?

You may know that my degree from Pitzer College is in classics, that is the study of Greek and Latin, and of Greek and Roman history and culture. The graduation requirements included, in those days at least, something like three years of Latin and two of Greek, plus associated courses in history, art and literature.

PitzerftnsmIt was actually the associated courses in history, art, and literature that I was interested in, and less so the languages. Now Pitzer has always been very flexible when it comes to crafting the course requirements for one’s major, and I certainly could have put together something acceptable that would have omitted the languages. That would have been a good idea, since I always struggled with languages other than English, as I certainly did with Latin and Greek. Never mind, of course, the fact that the world of classical scholarship frowns on translations and insists on scholars reading research in the original language. That means both German and French are strongly recommended. So, yes, in my case a custom major that omitted the languages would have been a wise choice. And in fact, there was precedent next door at Scripps College, where there was an official classical studies major, which omitted the Latin and Greek.

So why didn’t I? For the same two reasons that many people of college age make bad decisions: arrogance and peer pressure.

That was 38 years ago, so I’m not sure why I’m even recalling this now. But I can’t help but think that I would have saved myself a lot of stress and frustration had I made a more pragmatic decision.

television on Olive Street

An Olive Street recollection.

On Olive street I had a small portable black and white television. For context, we’d had color television at home since about the time I was in the sixth grade. It didn’t get used an awful lot. I spent a lot of time reading and I used my Sears credit card to buy a stereo with a turntable, cassette, and 8-track. I played a lot of vinyl and listened to the soft rock station, Stereo 93, KNX-FM.

As for the TV, though, there was no cable and what I got was what could be gotten over the air via rabbit ears, which in Claremont was all of the Los Angeles stations. So the PBS station, channel 28, got it’s fair share of viewing. Then there were the guilty pleasures. Alison and I were hooked on Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman and Saturday Night Live. No VCRs then, so you watched when something came on or you missed it. Of course both of those shows were late night viewing, but somehow we managed to watch them, get Alison back to her dorm room at Scripps College, and I still got to work on time the next day.

It didn’t seem so then, but a simpler time it was.