Monday, June 9, 2014

Forgetting Ike

TigerBlog was about halfway through his weekend when he realized that he forgot to answer his question about Dwight Eisenhower and what he did between the end of World War II and when he became President of the United States.

The answer is that he was the president of Columbia University. Ike was the head Lion from 1948 until the day he became President of the United States, which means that he ran for President not as a Governor or Senator or Congressman but as a university president.

One of TigerBlog's favorite stories from John McPhee is about the time that McPhee as a Princeton undergrad had a chance meeting with Eisenhower in his residence at Columbia. It's too long to get into here, so you'll just have to take TB's word that it's pretty funny.

When McPhee told TB the story, TigerBlog thought it had to be fairly intimidating for a college student to be standing one-on-one in a study in the back of building in New York City with the man who had been the leader of the Allied forces in World War II just a few years earlier. TB is also sure Mr. McPhee handled it well.

Anyway, TB apologizes for forgetting to answer his own question from Friday. It's also not the first time he's done that.

When he asks a question like that, he doesn't want to give away the answer right away because he wants to give people a chance to answer it for themselves. His solution is to say he'll answer it in two paragraphs or so. Then he gets back on track with what he's writing about and forgets all about the question.

Today would be a good day for such a question, if he had one, as there really is no getting on track today. It's more about getting a few thoughts out there and moving along.

TigerBlog met a man over the weekend named Bill, along with his wife Alice. Bill is an older guy, in his 80s. Bill is still sharp-witted, that's for sure.

He said that his starting salary as an educator in Mercer County had been $2,600 per year, and when someone said that he couldn't afford Alice back then, he talked about her shopping habits and joked "I can't afford her now." He also said that his car was equipped with a special button that when he pushed it, the car knew to go directly to Kohls.

Bill played soccer at Seton Hall and apparently was pretty good at it, or at least he said he was. TB takes him at his word there. Between high school and college Bill was in the Navy, training to deploy on a battleship but never being sent to the fight because the war ended before he could go.

Bill is a Trenton High grad, and he knew Bus Saidt, the longtime columnist at the Trenton Times who is in the baseball Hall of Fame. Bus - whose real name was Harold - also went to Trenton High.

Bus was a fascinating guy. For years he covered the Yankees, Mets and Phillies, depending on who was home, and drove night after night to one of the three stadiums the teams played in, none of which is still standing. He was also a mainstay in the newsroom when TB first started in the newspaper business, and perhaps his best friend was Harvey Yavener, who spent much of his career covering local colleges, including Princeton.

Bus liked to play up the surly, sarcastic angle, and it was Bus who said to former Trenton Times sports editor Jim "what happened, the war end?" when he saw the paper one day and wasn't exactly pleased with how big the headline for a high school tennis match on the front page of the sports section was.

In reality Bus had a big heart, which made him very much like Yav. Bus knew everyone at the paper, including a Penn student who was just starting out by covering some high school football, and he made it a point to make him feel welcome and to offer him advice when he thought he could use it.

Bill was also a big fan of another member of a different Hall of Fame, Pete Carri. Bill would go to watch Princeton play and was fascinated by how Carril's team's played and by Carril himself.

Bill said he'd met Carril - and said so with a degree of awe and pride. To TigerBlog, it was another reminder of the fact that he takes Carril for granted and that he shouldn't, because Carril is one of the greatest treasures in Princeton University history, a man who spent 29 years getting the point across that on a campus of privilege, none of his players enjoyed any that they didn't earn each day.

As for Bill, he talked a little like Carril, with a soft, deep voice that he punctuated with a low laugh and that same quick wit.

As for the sport Carril coached at Princeton, a group of alums were playing in the Basketball Tournament in Philadelphia over the weekend under the name PUBB Champions Tour.

TB will call them the Tigers even though they aren't any more and even though the team was not an official representative of the University or the athletic department or whatever other legalese TB should throw out there.

Anyway, the Tigers won their first game fairly easily Friday night, defeating a group of St. Anthony's alums 66-47, before falling 68-66 in the Round of 16 to a team that included, among others, former Duke and NBA player Dahntay Jones, former Seton Hall point guard Andre Barrett, UConn's Josh Boone, Florida's Matt Walsh and Providence's Donnie McGrath. That team - called Team Barstool - reached the final, which will be played June 28 between the 'Stools and the Notre Dame Fighting Alumni.

The Princeton alums were led in the loss to the Barstools by Jimmy Sherburne's 19 points, while T.J. Bray had 14. There had been four Tigers in double figures in the first game, led by Alex Okafur's 16.

Even though Princeton didn't win, the team did give, in the words Carril often used, "a good account of themselves."

And there you have it for a rainy Monday in Princeton.

Too bad TB didn't ask any trivia questions today. For once, he would have remembered to include the answer.

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