A big gap on my first day of college

August 1975 in Morrisville, N.Y. (Photo by a teary-eyed parent)

August 1975 in Morrisville, N.Y. (Photo by a teary-eyed parent)

Eight years. Ten years. When I’m 56, who cares, you know? Despite their protestations, my sisters Frannie and Dory are indeed catching up to me, in my mind’s eye, at least.

But, oh, how the sibling age gap hit me when I saw this picture Fran has posted on her Facebook page, keeper of the albums that she is.

There we are outside Stewart Hall at the State University of New York at Morrisville in August of 1975, me about to be delivered by Frank and Dolores for my freshman year. I do not recall whether it was mom or dad who snapped the shot, but whichever, the other was standing on the side. And they sure did have an eye for a pleasing lineup, didn’t they? Oy. Dory, aged 7. Frannie, aged 9. Me, aged 17.

Keep your eyes on traveling on that natural progression, above and to the right.

You can see the bottom of the window to the room in which I would live the next four semesters, 234 Stewart Hall.

I learned much about life inside those four walls, thanks to my roommates and floor section wing mates and second floor mates and journalism classmates and even a visiting coed or two. Yup, it was an all-male dorm with strict intervisitation hours. Thank goodness for the less strict RAs.

On this picture-taking day, I didn’t know how any of that would unfold, of course. But did know how much I was glad to be getting away from home. My high school friend Mike, soon to be called Aggo among other nicknames, also came to Morrisville to study journalism. I don’t think his parents, Sal and Irene, were accompanied by his siblings. Although like me, Mike was the eldest, he had six younger than he, and I think they stayed back on Long Island. I know we both got our families out of there quickly.

Then I went to Mike’s room. He lived on the same floor! I looked him directly in the eye. I shook his hand firmly. I said: “Mike, we can be cool now. Nobody here knows us.”

And so it happened, one day at a time, for two great years of learning about journalism and life.

But look at that picture. On day one in upstate New York, wow, was I wondering what lied ahead. And my goodness, my little sisters were really little!

What pictures have you come across that found you at a crossroads of life? Have your parents ever dropped you off anywhere and had you shoo them away quickly? Were you bewildered or confident on your first day of college? How about the second day? Tell us what happened in between.

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52 thoughts on “A big gap on my first day of college

  1. And while your sisters were smiling from ear-to-ear, you had already adopted the closed-mouth, ‘I’m smiling but I’m really not’ smile that was always belied by the grin in one’s eyes.

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  2. Do you want to hear something weird? My parents didn’t take any pictures of us. We didn’t own a camera. I’ve got one from when I was about five years old and not another until I was in high school. Nowadays, of course, their every little move is well documented. Bulbs flashing like a news conference every time they blow out candles.

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    • That is odd, Mark. It wasn’t like now, but, my family does have pictures, Kodak did exist in our life. Too bad. It’s fun to look back now that I’m an old guy. And it makes for interesting Thursday reflection here, I think and hope.

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  3. Great memories Mark. It’s neat how when looking forward we see each step as an extention of the previous steps in life, a logical progression, – and then looking back we see this same point as a critical intersection in our road through life, a launching point for what is to come. Your pic is surely one of those moments. And yes, I did the math and your sisters’ ages are definitely catching up to you. For instance when you were 17 Dory was 7 and so 41% of your age. Now that you are 56 (same as me!) she would be 46 or 82% of your age. See? It won’t be long at that rate that she will be passing you. In 39 years she has gained 41% on you – that’s a gain of 1.05 percent per year. At that rate, she’ll be the same age as you in less than 18 years. Cool, eh? Ha! Ho, Ho, I love it when math agrees with me.

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    • I love your math, Paul. I use it to explain why every year seems to go by faster than the year previous. Same exact math. Thank, my friend. Get a blog, smart man. Get a laptop, an iPad, get a blog. I want you to be featured.

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      • We al do our math that way here in Ottawa Diana – after all it is “Federal Government Math” It always agrees with user – ha!. In Mark’s great country there are many like-minded individuals in a town called Washington – you may have heard of it. We get together with them regularly to compare techniques.

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      • Greetings Diana! Good to meet you. Calgary via Montreal, eh? That there is what you call culture shock. I’ve visited both but never lived in either – I’m originally from Halifax and have gradually migrated westward. I only got as far as Ottawa. It was the math that drew me. Ha! Just kidding.

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  4. I was bewildered on my first day of college! I was a married mother of 2 with 2 step daughters. It was no less daunting. There were no parents, no picture taking, just me wondering how I would manage to learn anything. I am pleased to report, that I surprised myself. πŸ™‚

    And you are ADORABLE!!!!!! πŸ™‚

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    • Bully to you, Colleen, for going to college at that point of your life. My dear wife Karen did much the same, junior college first and then transfer to four-year even later, with two children. I am proud of you for going the route with two children, and you learned and surprised yourself. I can picture that, and I think that’s cool enough for me! πŸ™‚ (And thank you on the adorable thing, blushing, my friend.)

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  5. how great mark. ‘we can be cool now.’ every young person’s dream – we can begin again and be anything we want to be, we will reinvent ourselves, just like madonna did, time and again. i love the pic of you and your sibs and you are right, i think they catch up over time. priceless.

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  6. My kids were sitting around a couple of days ago, and my eldest, who just turned 23, remarked that when the three elder ones were little-little (there’s a gap before the fourth), they all seemed pretty much the same age, and then suddenly, in their teens, the differences were light-years, and now, the difference is back to negligible. Time is elastic.
    “We can be cool now.” I remember that feeling.

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    • “Time is elastic.” That’s a great insight, Ross. Thank you. You should be a writer! πŸ™‚

      I’m glad to hear you had the the chance to sit down with your four a couple days ago. When there’s a span like that, those occasions must be more and more special, my friend.

      And, look, we both may have edged onto the reverse end of the cool bell curve without fully realizing it. My, oh, my, life is something.

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  7. Ah Mark! this is how I remember you! Except you did grow some facial hair by the time i met you….a few parties….radio station……you were a very cool guy!

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  8. I love that photo. Your hair is awesome. I’m not being facetious. I grew up in the town where I went to college, so all I wanted to do was get in my dorm room, change clothes, and go clubbing. If I had been unfamiliar w/ the city, that would have been scary. This morning, my son and I ate breakfast while AMC was showing “Jaws.” I told him I hadn’t seen it in 1975 when it came out because I was too young to see scary movies. But I bet you saw it that year that you had that outfit!

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    • I did see it that year, and I lived on Long Island, where the darn movie was set, and there was ‘Jaws’ panic, and nobody wanted to go to the beaches, and the politicians were worried about the economy. And then I went to college with that fabulous hair and that picture was taken, Kerbey. Thank you for the compliment, seriously. I miss my hair.

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  9. LOVE the photo! Oh how I wanted my parents to get out of my dorm ASAP. But as soon as they left, I fogged up the window watching them leave, crying like a bawl baby! Of course that was soon over the moment I realized I could have a Skinny Pirate whenever I pleased!

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  10. What a handsome young chap you were. That is quite an age difference between you and your sisters. You look pretty cool in that picture already, you must have been super cool in college! πŸ™‚

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    • Thank you, Mrs. B. I grew in confidence by leaps and bounds, and that made me feel cooler! And, I immediately grew a beard and started parting my hair in the middle. How’s that for September, 1975?

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  11. I LOVE that photo!!!!!! You all three look so cute, and you indeed looked cool already, before the parents even left. So you didn’t tell us: Did Mike go on to be just as cool as you still are? EXCELLENT throwback! Thanks for sharing! πŸ˜€

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  12. Family photos mean so much! I realized there was a gap in age, there have been posts about this but I loved this photo, best of all! You can reinvent yourself, but I somehow believe you were their “hero,” which is a great and important role to have played, Mark!

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    • Why thank, you Kate! After two years at Morrisville, I transferred to Maryland and became a Terp. Do I look familiar? Did you see me Byrd? Cole? Memorial Stadium in Bal’mer? When you put your photo on your blog in your Orioles gear, I tried to figure out if I ever met you during my Maryland years! Ah, that’s just the way I am.

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