Off To USC To Continue My Education

I missed most of USC college life because I was a working stiff

Time To Move Forward To USC

Next jump, USC.  Thanks to some good grades and a little help from the president of the college, I was on my way! Imagine! Then it was off to the University Of Southern California... all my friends from High School went to UCLA so naturally I wanted USC. Wow! $20 a unit... can you image paying $400/semester??

The University of Southern California (commonly referred to as USC, SC, Southern California, and incorrectly as Southern Cal[b]), located in the University Park neighborhood in Los Angeles, California, USA, was founded in 1880, making it California's oldest private research university.

Off To USC

While all of the student politics was going forward, I was getting pretty good grades and in fact had a 3.5 average.  I had always wanted to go to USC and expressed that to my counselor who knew some strings at USC.  We drove down to USC one afternoon and I met with several of the staff about getting into the school.  My political activities, grades, and recommendation from the school was accepted and I was on my way.

The only problem was $15/unit... My gaud, how would I ever get $300 for a semester of education and the books to go with it?  Back to work at Henry Radio and by the second year at USC I had to find a better job.  I signed on at North American Aviation as a technician on the Apollo Program.  Electrical stuff always fascinated me.

But alas, Downey was 20 miles from USC and my home in Santa Monica was 20 miles the other direction... Something had to give and I moved away from home for the first time in my life.  I joined a fraternity called ChiPhi as I didn't want to live in the dormitories and could not afford an apartment.  I got reasonable food, good friends, and an occasional date.

The year in 1966 and I am reading to graduate with a degree in history and a desire to teach.  But alas, the teachers salary was dirt while I had risen in the NAA structure from technician to test engineer.  I was pulling down $3.19/hour plus time and a half for overtime... and we were working a lot of overtime.

It's now 2005 and I am still with NAA which became Rockwell which became Boeing.


The Chi-Pi Fraternity

Chi Phi

The Chi Phi (ΧΦ) fraternity is an American college social fraternity founded in 1824 at Princeton University, in 1858 at the University of North Carolina, and in 1860 at Hobart College, making it the oldest social collegiate fraternity in history

While at USC I joined the Chi Phi Fraternity and met great people such as Ted Higgs who I just got email from after 35 years, Gary Ashcraft who daughter I now work with! E Gad, I am old!! Bob Meyers , Don McCoy, Joe Tracy, Bill James, Bruce Inzer, and all the rest!

The Chariot Race

So we entered the race!  We what? Us? Chi Phi compete in the Greek Week competition? All the other fraternities did what fraternities normally did... built their chariots from bicycle parts! Flimsy is a nice word!  Chi Phi... nope!  We went to a local studio prop rental company and arranged for an actual chariot used in Ben-Hur!  This puppy was several hundred pounds as it was designed to be pulled be horses!  We go a flat-bed truck (I forget how we got it) and brought the chariot to 28th street.  The other fraternities laughed themselves silly! "You can't pull that"  "Never win" Etc Etc.

Chariot Race

So our ladies of the house decorated the chariot with chicken-wire and colored Kleenex so we had our symbol on the front!  Joe Tracy (small in stature, large in heart and everything else) dresses the warrior part and mans the chariot... and the rest of us become horses.

We get started to the end of 28th street** near Figueroa... amidst hoots and howls from the competition!  Tracy is ready, willing and able to guide - and let us pull him! US was, if my memory serves me, Ted Higgs, Joe Ranfeld, Bob Meyers, Gary Ashcraft, Pat ..... and ours truly!

Bang goes the starting gun and away we go!  I a cloud of dust and a "Get a move on guys!"....  The competition starts out quickly... Jock houses are the funniest... their little bicycles come apart all over the street!  The brain houses are slow!  But here comes Chi Phi... Can you  images six of us pulling this thing as fast as we can... it now weighs about 400 pounds... and we only have about 50 feet to stop it!

We are in first place and everybody is yelling SLOW DOWN SLOW DOWN! We finally get the darned thing stopped!

We won! To celebrate, we pulled the chariot all the way over to campus (about 4 blocks), stop by the 32nd* street market and made the chariot even heavier... with a full keg of beer!

Rocky Hanken Turns Inside Out

Rocky Hanken was super guy but had bad luck with girls (at least 40+ years ago).  I remember once he was jilted by a current flame.  Rocky loved pizza and could put down pizza and beer with the best of them.  He proceeded to get drunk.  In those days, it was our answer to anything. I mean "Shi.. faced".  Of course, he finally got sick. 

I had been out for the evening and got home early for some reason... maybe I was getting home form work? I saw him laying on the floor of the frat house just outside the men's facilities on the second floor.  He appeared to be covered in blood and had all the appearances of being dead.

Oh my God, I never had seen a dead man!

I thought he had got in a fight.  The closer I got, the worse it looked.  Just before calling the police (we did not have 911 in those days) we recognized the blood was mixed with spaghetti sauce and what appeared to be mushrooms and pepperoni.  He had recently devoured a pizza or two, got sick, and passed out with great showmanship.

Finally (I do not remember who was their... may have been Gary Ashcraft) we drug him into the shower and turned on the water to clean him up.  The water ran forever and he was not real happy about laying on the floor of the ten person shower with three shower heads going full blast. 

It was then we discovered he was not hurt (except for his heart) but he was one sick puppy!!

I heard from Rocky a few years back and he is living a comfortable life with his wife of many years near Redondo Beach, California. (I hope his bride or kids or grandkids never read about this adventure)

Joseph Egan Tracy

"Tracy" was my roommate and what a roommate he was.  Tracy was a devoted Catholic who was always attempting to covert this poor old Baptist.  I went to church with him several times and he translated all that was going on!  The last time I saw Tracy was at Pete and Colleen's wedding about twenty years ago, say 1990?  He was living in San Diego and was still doing some construction.  Joe, if you are still around drop an email, huh?

Cheap Wine

Cheap wine I'm sure this stuff is no longer made but in the 1960's we would go down to 28th street market and buy a gallon of red mountain wine for about $1.40.  It served many purposes including loosening nuts and bolts like WD-40.  Seriously, it was bad stuff but sufficient to get a buzz and cheaper than the delicious beer which was always a bit out of reach!

I remember the party where we had a bath tub filled with about six gallons of red wine and some dry ice.  Well, I remember most of it  anyway!