I was like many poor kids from tenements and housing projects in 1948 New York City, so figured, Why not take a shot at a good high school?
The first shock I received from Tech was that I had passed the entrance test! The second was the culture shock of graduating from a tiny Catholic grammar school in lower Manhattan to navigate Tech’s building of 6,000 students.
I barely got through my freshman year because I had no clue of subjects other than academics. Shop, mechanical drawing, and good old Industrial Processes (I.P.) were like foreign languages. Fortunately, I finally caught on and did well during my four years.
Actually, I nearly never went to Tech. My dad had wanted me to take a commercial course at a local Brooklyn high school. His rationale was his buddies who were clerks in the military during WWII had avoided frontline combat. I insisted on Tech and won, even though the total technical experience in the family involved a hammer, a nail, and one flat-blade screwdriver. Ironically, when I finished my army basic training, my military occupational specialty (MOS) number turned out to be 711, or “company clerk.”
Anyway, Tech turned out to be the best decision I ever made. The Electrical Terminal course ultimately got me hired by IBM as a customer engineer, servicing and repairing time clocks and electronic time systems, then typewriters and dictation machines. Do you remember those high-tech devices? LOL.
IBM allowed me to attend college at night, which finally led me to Xerox, where I sold equipment and systems for 26 successful years.
One correction to the above: Tech was actually the second best decision I ever made. Marrying my wife Ellen was definitely first. We had 52 great years, three kids, and four grandkids before she passed two years ago. I enjoy spending time with the kids and grandkids, and still suffer rooting for the Mets and Giants. I also play trombone with a couple of bands in the Buffalo, NY area, where we relocated nine years ago. I hope to get to Brooklyn for next year’s homecoming.