Thursday, January 22, 2015


        As a college student I did not own a typewriter. I wrote all my papers in long hand. I did the same in Midshipmen School. In my senior year at McDonogh School I had sat in on part of a typewriting class, where I picked up a few exercises but never really learned to type. As a Naval Supply officer aboard ship I had enlisted men (“storekeepers”) who did most of the typing. For what little typing I had to do, I used my own two-finger “hunt and peck” method.
        Lacking that skill proved to be a disadvantage in more ways than one. All of my correspondence was hand-written, included much of what I had to do as Business Manager of the Nassoons. I would punch out the more important letters on a borrowed typewriter, but that took so much more time, because I was constantly having to erase my typos on the originals, as well as on the carbon copies, using what in those days we called “slip sheets," and that took time.
        Senior theses had to be typewritten and bound, so when I finally completed the hand-written final draft of my masterpiece, which was entitled The Unionization of Baseball, I had to find someone to do the typing for me, preferably a professional typist. I soon discovered I was not the only Princeton senior in that predicament, as I was having difficulty finding someone in town who was not already too loaded with doctoral dissertations and masters’ theses, as well as senior theses.
        I realized, too late, that I should have lined up someone earlier. My anxiety had turned to desperation, when I finally found a young woman in town who agreed to “squeeze” me in, probably because she felt sorry for me. The going rate at the time was twenty cents per page, and I was more than willing to pay it. She promised to have it for me in two weeks, which would give me just enough time to have it bound and turned in before the deadline. Oh, what a relief it was!
        That was a huge load off my mind, and I could now turn my full attention to all the other things that were going on in my life, such as Nassoon rehearsals, engagements, and record sales,baseball practices and games, and my other academic work, which had been somewhat neglected. Things were going great, I thought, until a telephone call came from my typist telling me she just didn’t have time to finish my thesis. That was enough of a shock, but when I went to pick up my manuscript I was even more dismayed to discover she had typed only about half of it. What was I going to do?
        When I bemoaned my predicament to Margie, she immediately replied, “I’ll type it for you! I can do it when I’m home during my spring break” The thought of her typing my thesis had never crossed my mind, nor was I the least bit aware of her typing skills. All of her correspondence had been in long hand. Though I was overwhelmed and overjoyed by her offer, I was somewhat reluctant to accept, feeling that it was too much of an imposition. That was no way for her to have to spend her spring break.
        “But I really want to do this for you, Dick,” she said. She made me feel as if I were doing her a favor to let her type my thesis, and I loved her all the more for it. I soon discovered she was a fantastic typist –really fast and accurate. She had worked for the Library of Congress and for the War Production Board in the summers of 1943, ‘44 and ‘45, and for the Dean of Admissions at Princeton in the summer of 1946.
The title page of my thesis.
The front cover of  my thesis 
        In just a few days she had completed the task, despite the fact that she took time out to attend our Nassoon rehearsals. My fellow songsters were extremely envious of my good fortune. They had all been aware of my anxiety and their sympathy turned to envy when they discovered that the Sweetheart of the Nassoons was an angel in disguise.
        It was a happy moment indeed, when Margie presented me with the finished manuscript and two smudge-free carbon copies. To my grateful eyes they were absolutely beautiful, and I’m sure that my adviser was as impressed as I was, when I handed him the bound original. I gave Margie much of the credit for the high grade I received.
        How much more slick and professional the finished project would have appeared had we had personal computers and laptops in those days! But this was still the Age of standard and portable typewriters. Even electric typewriters had yet to appear of the scene. So from my primitive perspective my first bound manuscript was a thing of beauty, and the memory of Margie's coming to my rescue is a joy forever.

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