Elmhurst College

December 30th, 2016

Elmhurst College


Elmhurst was nearby to Des Plaines, just down the road in the town of Elmhurst; driving there took about 30 minutes — you took the road down past O’Hare airport — so that I could live at home and commute to college.  And, it was co-ed!  So I’d be safely out the the dangers that lurk in an all-male institution.  It was not as academically rigorous as Wabash was.  It was associated with the United Church of Christ, the blanket organization of the Congregational Church, to which our family belonged, and the Evangelical and Reformed Church.  But religion played really no part in the school life, it was even more secular that Wabash had been.

I thrived at Elmhurst.  My grade went from the C’s and D’s of Wabash to A’s and B’s — in all my subjects; which meant I could keep up my Philosophy and English majors, and still have plenty of  time to fool around.

I didn’t mind the drive — I was getting to like driving pretty well, as i was going into Chicago every Saturday to see Doctor Deutsch.  Usually I’d drive in early, and go to Lincoln Park, often the zoo there, a small zoo but pleasant, I thought,  Then a leisurely stroll through the park, and then to the good doctor.

But commuting back and forth every day proved a poor way of learning, so after the first semester, I pestered my folks to let me stay in a dorm on campus, which they finally agreed to do (at the urging of Dr. Deutsch).  I got a room of my own, with private bath (!) in a new building, just around the corner from the Student Union and next to the Library.  It was a very comfortable room, and I could hole up in there and get my studying done.

During the first semester, I had had a girlfriend; very handy to have a girl to take to events on campus.  We talked a lot, mostly about how miserable life could be, and I eventually ended up telling her that I was gay.  About a month later, she announced that she had decided that she was gay.  Life got a lot looser after that, and I started going off-campus on the weekends, taking the train  into Chicago to go to the gay bars.  The bars in Chicago closed, on weekend nights, at 5:00 a.m. — panic hour, if you hadn’t found anyone to go home with, as the last train back to Elmhurst left at 12:30 p.m, and service didn’t start up again, on Sunday, until after noon.

It didn’t take me too long to find a more permanent friend to visit, whom I will call Terry because that was his name.  Terry, a tall, dishwater-blonde was several years older than me, had his own little house in Old Town (the “artsy” area of Chicago, i.e. the gay part), and was a window dresser for Carson Pierre Scott, a major department store in Chicago.  Terry introduced me to gay society — I had had no idea what that might be like, or that there actually was such a thing.  There followed lots of Sunday morning brunches, and cocktail parties beginning a 1:00 in the afternoon, and late-night snuggling in Terry’s tiny little house — all very cozy and friendly and welcoming and helping me to come further out of my shell.


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