In the fall of my final year at Greenwich Country Day School, my father took me on a tour of boarding schools. We went to five schools in one day, first Taft, Choate, Loomis, Hotchkiss, and finally Bershire. I liked Taft the best and recall falling asleep during my interview at Bershire because I was so tired after touring all the schools. I would make Taft my first choice. I recall being particularly attracted to the golf course, not to mention the other extensive facilities. Moreover, there were a number of Greenwich Country Day alumni that had preceded me so the way was well paved. I would wait until the spring to be accepted and I naturally decided to go. One of the reasons for going away to school was that my father was going to be transferred to Mexico City, and he preferred me to remain state side for my education. However, by the time the transfer fell through, we had sold our house in Greenwich, and were unable to find another house. My parents rented a large rambling carriage house in New Canaan while they waited to build another house also in New Canaan. My sister who had her driver's license by then would spend much of the summer chauffeuring us back and forth to our friends' houses since we did not know anyone in New Canaan. Upon entering Taft I made several friends from New Canaan, along with my old friends from Greenwich.
I would enter Taft in tenth grade, while most of the boys had entered in ninth grade. I would quickly make a number of friends, although the Greenwich boys tended to stay together as a clique. One of my best friends was from Katona, New York; and since his parents had spent much of their time abroad, he had been in boarding school since six years old. He really knew the ropes and was always getting into mischief, but staying out of trouble since he could fool the teachers.
The academic schedule was quite rigorous with classes six days a week and study hall every evening until ten o'clock. We were supervised by monitors from the upper classes and by and large my classmates were well behaved. We were only allowed passes once or twice a term, so we were on campus most of the time except in the late afternoon when we were allowed to go down town. Once again I was required to take athletics and was very clumsy in soccer and basketball, although I did enjoy playing golf in the spring. I would never be enthusiastic over contact sports and can not see what the attraction is to the violence of sports.
We followed many of the same courses at Taft as we did at the Day school. My french teachers were my sponsors, and French was also my weakest subject. We had to take six courses a term, basically English, French, Latin, History, Math, and Science. I would spend many afternoons between sports and assembly in the library reading and listening to music on headphones. The whole school would eat meals together with students taking turns as waiters. The food was by and large acceptable though sometimes cold. I had a roommate the first year from Long Island, though we were never good friends, I always thought he was home sick. I enjoyed the company of boys after growing up with three sisters. There was much school boy humor though the masters were rigorous and the highlight of the week was the Saturday night movie. We kept track with outside events through the New York Times in the library and would never see a television for months on end, although I had never really watched television.
I had a half dozen friends who were on the wrestling team although they could never get me involved. I never pursued photography at Taft since my studies were all consuming. I did take time out to make hard cider my first year and one of the negro football players drank it all and went off howling across the campus. I thought it was all amusing.
We were all required to wear coats and ties, though we were always trying to interject fashion statements of rebellion. The student body and masters and administrative staff were by and large conservative and there was not very much liberal thought. I did write a term paper on LSD for English my junior year, with most of my research drawn from Time magazine. I excelled in science and math and was somewhat slower in English and History. Overall I was in about the middle of the class. Church was required on Sunday, but my friends and I took to going to morning service, so we would have the whole day free for various day trips in the area and occasionally to New York or home if we had the money.
Several times we would end up drinking in the bars of the Upper East side and only make it back just in time for bed slightly intoxicated, but no harm done since the drinking took place off campus. The train rides home were quite hilarious and frequently we had to carry some of our classmates back to the dorms.
The summer after my first year I started practicing driving on the fields surrounding the carriage house in New Canaan and by the end of the summer I had taken a driving course and had my driver's license. I would spend much time driving back and forth to New Canaan and Greenwich, not to mention the long distance phone calls between the two towns. There were many parties in Greenwich and lots of time playing golf and swimming at the Country Club. It was upsetting not to be close to my friends, but I enjoyed myself and had plenty of time for my summer reading.
I use to climb the water tower adjacent to the carriage house and much excitement was had exploring New Canaan. That fall while I was back at school our new house in New Canaan would be completed and I would miss the drudgery of moving. My younger sister had enrolled in Trinity University in San Antonio. The family seemed to be spreading apart.
I would have a similar year at Taft as the previous year, although I would take to skipping athletics with medical excuses obtained from the school nurse who thought I was too frail to compete strenuously. However, I would make the varsity golf team that spring when half the team was suspended for smoking. I enjoyed playing golf at Taft, although the early spring days were quite windy and chilly. The amazing thing about Taft was that most of the buildings were interconnected, so one hardly had to go outside on cold days. I roomed by myself that year and I would have much more time studying since I did not participate in athletics. I did become an enthusiastic supporter of the hockey team, since a number of my friends were expert hockey players. Standing in the chilling rink cheering for our school was very invigorating. I also joined the ski club, although I only went skiing a half dozen times and was terrified. I would only ski one other time after graduating from Taft.
My studying was intensified since there was pressure to gain acceptance into one of the Ivy League colleges. However, I had plenty of time to maintain close friendships, and I was very happy with my progress at Taft.
That spring when I returned home to New Canaan, my father announced that he had arranged a summer job in Greenwich for me helping to build a new house in our old neighborhood. My parents had decided to move back to Greenwich. The whole summer would be spent starting work at seven A.M. as a carpenter's helper until four P.M. every afternoon. I was generally so tired after work I would return home and eat dinner and go to bed.
Occasionally some of my friends would stop by the job site and visit and make me very envious of their idle summer time. There was still time for parties on weekends. I was in very good shape by the end of the summer from lifting much lumber.
That fall we would move into a temporary rental house in Greenwich since our house in New Canaan had been sold, and our new house in Greenwich was not completed. While I was away at school during the fall term, my parents would eventually move into the new house that I had worked on constructing.
My senior year at Taft was going well, however, my grades were not as good as they should have been and it began to look as if I would not be attending an Ivy league school. I applied to the University of North Carolina, Washington and Lee, Hamilton, and Lake Forest College. I had visited Washington and Lee and Hamilton, but I never visited Lake Forest which I eventually would end up attending. I was very enthusiastic with Lake Forest since a number of students from Taft would be attending and it was also in the midwest where my family had strong roots.
In the spring of my senior year, my parents announced that my father was changing jobs to join Polaroid in Cambridge, Massachusetts and that we would be moving again that summer.
I would have a great summer before we moved playing golf every day out at the country club. I would eventually win the junior club championship. My father had also bought a Mustang convertible for my older sister and myself to drive around in. I had a minor wreck in the car that summer, but the car was repaired and all was forgiven. I also attended typing classes that summer, and finally learned how to improve my typing skills. In August the family finally moved to Boston to a small two bedroom apartment until we could find a suitable house to rent. I would spend the rest of the summer driving around the streets of Boston exploring the city in the Mustang. Later in the fall we would rent a house in Wellesley adjacent to Dana Hall which would be our family home for the next year. My two younger sisters would attend Beaver Country Day School and Dana Hall. I flew off to Chicago to attend Lake Forest College.