Civil Liberties / Interview Theme Index / Arrival /


Bill Taylor

— I arrived at Brooklyn College in January of 1948. I'd just turned seventeen — no, sixteen — in '47, so I was sixteen when I entered Brooklyn College.

Ann Lane

— I always wanted to go to Cornell, but my parents didn't have the money. So I went to Brooklyn College and I lived at home.

Herb Dorfman

— It was Brooklyn College because we couldn't afford anything else. Actually NYU offered me a fifty percent scholarship. I couldn't afford the other half. And I wasn't going to lean on my parents for the money. They just didn't have it. So Brooklyn College. But Brooklyn College was a terrific school. It was a hard, very complete and very compelling education. The Vanguard turned out to be an extra bonus.

Al Lasher

— I was a terrible high school student, terrible! I went to Bronx High School of Science — I went there for two-and-a-half years — and then to Evander, and graduated in January, 1946. And I had such a poor record. But it never entered my mind that I would not go to college. So now the time came. I was a senior at Evander and I had to go apply to colleges. Nobody advised me. The college advisor at Evander, I'll never forget it, I went in and I said, "I'm looking for some advice." I probably was smart-alecky about it. And she said, "Lasher, you don't want to go to college. You want to go to work." So I was on my own. [Other than my father,] nobody else in my family, literally nobody else on either my father's side or my mother's side had gone to college. And so I applied to City College and I applied to NYU. Both of them turned me down.

Gene Bluestein

— When I was eighteen they were still drafting so my advisors at school told me not to apply for college. But when I graduated they stopped the draft and I was stuck. I hadn't applied for anything. And besides I had a terrible high school record. I just barely graduated. So I took the exam for City College which was the only one left to take and I apparently did very well and I got in. So I went there for a year and then I transferred to Brooklyn. I lived twenty minutes away and it took me an hour and a half to get to City College.

Mike Lutzker

— Brooklyn College was an exciting place to be. For me it was particularly exciting because I had graduated from all-male Stuyvesant High School. And here it was a co-ed campus and by golly, for a New Yorker, there was grass.

Myron Kandel

— I had applied to three colleges, Brooklyn, the University of Missouri, which was noted for its journalism program, and NYU. Was accepted to all three, had no money to attend either of the other schools, so went to Brooklyn. I had no reason not to go to Brooklyn except that I thought it would be neat to be out of town, particularly Missouri, but there was no way. My mother was widowed and my brother supported us, and I'd worked after school ever since I was twelve or thirteen years old. So I went to Brooklyn which I think was one of the best educations anyone could have gotten.

Al Lasher

— So I'm walking down the hall in Evander one day and I see my friend Manny Zeltzer, and Manny Zeltzer always needed a shave, never had his hair combed, always wore a ratty looking brown jacket and baggy pants and scuffed shoes, and never wore a tie. And I see him coming down the hall and he was like an apparition. Hair was combed. He had a haircut. He was clean-shaven, a suit, a white shirt, a tie, shined shoes. I said: "Manny, where are you going?" He says, "I'm going to Brooklyn College. I'm going to take an exam." I says, "What?" He says, "I'm trying to get into Brooklyn College." He says, "What are you doing?" I said, "Oh, hanging around." I didn't go to school full time. I would cut a lot. So he said, "Well, come on down with me. Take the test." I said, "No. I don't want to take —" He said, "Ah, come on. They'll let you in." So he persuaded me. I got on the subway with him and we went to Brooklyn College together. We come to the door, he says, "My friend lost the card." "Oh, okay. What's your name?" He gave me the test exam and that's how I got into Brooklyn College. It was an accident. I owe it to my friend Manny Zeltzer.

Rhoda Karpatkin

— My mother used to say to me with great pride, "we let you go to college." I think it was assumed to be a great financial achievement for the family. I was the youngest of twenty-one first cousins on my mother's side, and her older siblings could not afford to have their children go to college. They had to go to work. To let me go to college involved taking a trolley and a bus every day and had a pocket allowance of, I don't know, a few dollars a week. I would take my lunch to school. And the tuition was free. The only cost was the Student Activities Fee, everything else was free. And I worked, and they were also proud of the fact that when I worked I could save my money and not turn it over to them. By the way, there was never any question of spending it. I mean, that was just not within their comprehension or my comprehension, so it went into the bank.

Download MP3

Herb Dorfman

— You know, my daughter went to Harvard and it was a great occasion, needless to say. And I remember taking her up there, Harvard makes a big ceremony out of it. It was wonderful. I always said to her, "I enjoyed your years at Harvard more than you did." You know? But I had actually the same kind of dramatic feeling going to Brooklyn. It wasn't just a school in Brooklyn. It was college and I felt wonderful about it. It was a glorious feeling. I walked on that campus, I remember, I just felt great. You know? It was college, no question about it. The pressure to be good, to teach good, to study good, it was enormous and the atmosphere was quite compelling. From the first week I was doing homework every night, two or three hours, just to keep up. It was amazing. My mother would say, "Enough already." I'd say, "Hey! You want me to fail? I've got to do it." So the atmosphere was wonderful. It’s hard to explain this to people sometimes because they think, well, you know, it's not like going to Yale or Princeton. Maybe not, but it was terrific. It really was.