MIT, 1958-61
Fellow Pacific High School valedictorian Tom Cover extended the hospitality of Phi Delta Kappa, his fraternity, for what they then still called “Rush Week.” Their brownstone chapter house was in Boston’s Back Bay, across the so-called “Harvard Bridge.”

This 2005 Back Bay skyline, by the way, isn’t at all what I saw back in ’58. Of the tall buildings visible here, only the “Old John Hancock” (the leftmost one with the little pointy weather-predicting tower) then stood. They built the Prudential tower (in the middle of the picture) while I lived in Cambridge. We made jokes about Pru and John being lovers… Apart from them, pretty much everything was six stories or lower.

Set up my treasured leather-covered suitcase-sized “hi-fi” phonograph in the upstairs chamber to which Tom’s frat brethren kindly directed me, and filled the environment with lovely 19th-century music of the sort I favored in those days.

Wandering about the Back Bay on that first day opened my provincial eyes to the big-city world in a number of ways. In particular, I was shocked to see a Boston City patrol car triple-parked. By a fire hydrant! And then that night, somebody crawled across neighboring rooftops and balconies, entered my assigned quarters through the window, and made off with my hi-fi! Speaking of Boston’s Finest, I guess it’s to their credit that they didn’t even pretend that they’d bestir themselves to get it back…
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