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Death of a Blythe Spirit

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I Care for Him!


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What Price Love?

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What Price Love?

Unfortunately, however, in the pursuit of their romance Mother and Father made at least one false step that we will never have a full explanation of and only recently even became aware of.

As part of our family history, we had all carried with us all our lives the fact that Father, because of his “genius,” had miraculously escaped Hell’s Kitchen and gone on to graduate from Columbia University. His resume noted B.S.E.E. Columbia University. However, a few months before he died, Mother inexplicably announced to Deedee and me during a visit that she no longer needed to carry “this family secret.” Then she told us that Father had not graduated from Columbia or any other university, that he had not even graduated from high school, that, in fact, he was self-educated.

In our April 18, 1993 "remembering" session, we middle-aged "kids" had a really hard time dealing with this:

*************************************

Camille:

Like with this latest stuff with father, the latest revelations, you know, with him not being a college graduate, not even being a high school graduate, and then not even being a reader, well “your father was never much of a reader” and it just works on us and works on us and I was telling Deedee on the way up here what is really hard to look back…

Bob:

Well you have to be careful about what you guys are doing here cause what you’re doing is taking a very narrow input from mother who is feeling repatriated or something and accepting that as absolute truth, you know, that all these things are absolutely true and its got nothing to do with her jaded, perhaps, outlook on what the situation was. What does Dad say about these things, or do we not talk to him anymore?

Camille:

Oh, I asked him. I said “What year did you graduate from college?” and he said quote I’ll have to research that unquote.

Bob:

Hahahaha sounds like a political answer to me.

Camille:

Yeah, there’s no doubt in my mind that what she says is true. What is, well, upon reflection, I thought about it a lot because it really bothered me and I had to worry about why did it bother me so much and it made everything make so much more sense; it explained SO much of his behavior It made me feel even sorrier for him, it really did, because he’s a… how naïve of us to think that someone who came of age in the height of the Great Depression with no father in his home, who’s the oldest son, how naïve of us to think that he was not going to be like everybody else? And have to go out and earn a living for his family? That he was going to be able to go to college? Mother said he didn’t even graduate from high school, and that’s consistent with every normal person that I’m that I spoke with of that age. That’s what they had to do.

Bob:

OK

Deedee:

What do you mean OK?

Bob:

I believe it may be true.

Camille:

But it doesn’t mean anything to you?

Bob:

What’s it supposed to mean? That Dad was insecure about it? I’m sure he is. I’m surprised? Yes I am.

Deedee:

Did Camille tell you everything that mom said or just that?

Bob:

Well what’s everything?

Deedee:

Well she, well mother said that he was working for a company…

Camille:

architect.

Deedee:

no, no, no, for the company, after they were married, and she said she was really surprised. There were several young couples that entered at the same time, about 4-5 couples, and she watched the other couples move up. You know, the husbands got advancements, they got improvements in their salary… they started moving up and she and father were just standing in this one spot. She said, why aren’t you being promoted, why aren’t you getting a raise? And it turns out that he, they had to do a security check on him before he could get this job, and that they found out that he had lied on his resume, so they had him where they wanted him. They could just use him. Cause it was like ‘you make a fuss with us and we just can you. You lied on your resume.’

Bob:

Well what did he say on his resume?

Deedee:

That he was a graduate of Columbia.

Camille:

She said more than that; it was more than that; we didn’t get the details. It was like places he’d worked or jobs he’d done. I don’t know.

Deedee:

She said he was advised by the architect he’d worked for to just

Bob:

Quit

Deedee:

no, no

Camille:

no, no

Deedee:

No to just do that, to say whatever you want to say on your resume.

Bob:

So he did and then they caught him and then they used…

Deedee:

Because I guess he was doing government work and they had to do a security check, and I guess they sort of made a deal, you know, we won’t squeal on you if you give us what we want

Bob:

So what was it they wanted?

Deedee:

They wanted his service, his BRAIN, and she says that he came up with all kinds of wonderful ideas but he never got credit for any of them.

Bob:
Well that sounds a little bit strange to me.

Deedee:
Why?   It makes sense to me though, if they actually said that and they said, and they could use him, they had his thumbs screwed.

Bob:
I could understand one individual doing that but not a company. I mean that doesn't make sense to me.

Deedee:
Well maybe that individual was the person in charge, his superior.

Bob:
OK. So for some period of time he'd be in that situation and always vulnerable to being dumped.

Deedee:
That's right.

Bob:
Which?

Deedee:
That's right and always sensitive to that, and always defensive about that, and any time a fuss was made what did he do, he quit.

Bob:
Well he changed companies though.

Deedee:
Yeah.

Bob:
What are you saying, that he changed companies because they caught up with him?

Camille:
No, I think he changed companies because life taught him that you could never stand and fight because he was afraid. That's what I think.

Bob:
Well we can sit here and, and…

Camille:
Speculate.

Bob:
Speculate all we want about it. The fact is he changed jobs a lot.

Camille:
Yeah.

Bob:
And at that time it was fairly easy for him to find another job when he quit a job so, and I've known people in that very same scenario who have graduated from college, you know, who do the very same thing. So, you know, I don't know what the significance of it is. I think that's more…

Deedee:
A personality quirk?

Bob:
Well, and also of the time! If it's, if it's an employee market then when you don't like something where you work then you quit and go somewhere else, what most people do for more salary. Dad never seemed to do that.

Camille:
Yeah, that's true. I think that what we're doing, we were trying to understand how it could have come about so we could . . .FORGIVE him, is what it boiled down to! Because…

Bob:
Well it does explain a lot. If he didn't graduate from college, and he did say that he did on his resume, and he did get caught in that at least once. . .I would think that if they caught you, they'd just fire you, just…

Deedee:
But you see…

Camille:
But it was WAR TIME!

Deedee:
…he had KNOWLEDGE, though, and experience, and he was smart.

Bob:
But it wouldn't be we know and we're going to pretend we don't know; it would   be we know and we don't care.

Deedee:
We don't care? But you're not moving up.

Bob:
Well,

Camille:
Well I don't think it was a conspiracy. I would guess that really what happened was that some person came, some lowly person who was investigating came and said 'yeah we found this out so you shut up and cooperate' and that's all they would have needed to say. They wouldn't have needed to follow up!   They probably, nobody probably said anything to him for the next 50 years!

Bob:
You can also look at, I look at MY career! I didn't exactly go up the corporate ladder either and it wasn't because I didn't have talent and it wasn't because I didn't graduate from the schools I said I graduated from. It's because it's a very narrow…

Camille:
It takes a lot of luck.

Bob:
…AND you got to have a certain kind of personality. You've got to be basically a , an asshole! or insipid! or, you  can't have strong opinions about things and go up a corporate ladder, at least that's…

Deedee:
But think of the times you know. That was very, very different.

Bob:
Well I don't know, I didn't live in those times, it'd be speculation, what are you saying, was it easy for people to go up…

Camille:
No, no, the changes that were being made in the industry, and especially after World War II.

Deedee:
Well, look, the only reason that we care is because he lied, isn't that right?   Isn't that the only reason we care?   If he'd a told us the truth we could have all…

Camille:
That's what Deedee and I say. Look, we got gypped. We would have been able to be PROUD of our accomplishments instead of never having to feel like we were ever good enough.

*************************************

I had difficulty accumulating any “hard” evidence regarding the degree mystery. Mostly I found negative evidence. I had a lovely conversation with Mr. John Castobianco, registrar at Columbia, who was unable to find any record whatsoever that Father ever even attended that university let alone graduated. However, way back in 1934, while still living at home in Mount Vernon, he was apparently working and attending school somewhere.


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 Page last updated on 05/17/2007

 

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