Senior Citizen Guide to Navigating a College Campus
A Senior Citizen Guide: How to be on a College Campus 70 Times a Year.
I observe many of my fellow AARP card carrying members run off to Florida every winter or permanently for climatological reasons (not having to shovel snow anymore). Give me liberty and a college campus and I’ve got all the youth I need to stay away from Florida. Sixteen years ago, before my AARP card arrived, I discovered my fountain of youth; college campuses (Brookdale, Rutgers, Monmouth, Rider and Princeton) near home. That first year of discovery, I took my impressionable ten year old son to his first college football game. Prodigal son liked it and we bonded. The following year produced season tickets for football and men’s basketball and a few years after that, women’s basketball and so forth and so on through wrestling, hockey, men’s and women’s lacrosse and soccer and baseball. Life blood is being part of spirit and support; to hear a pep band play school fight songs and to take your red cap off for the national anthem. Kids paint bodies with letters spelling out the school’s name and hearing my alma mater, makes me think I’m back in 1775, nine years after Rutgers was founded; people around me talking about George Washington and fighting the British for our freedom; I’m alive when on campus; dreaming and drifting; I left my musket and saddle in the barn by the babbling brook.
I realized there are college public lectures to expand the mind and stretch cerebral telomeres (that shoe lace tip like object that protects cerebral DNA). Eagleton Institute at Rutgers focuses on Political Science. Along comes CNN’s David Gergen who talked about advising several presidents and Michael Beschloss, famed presidential historian. I sidelined Beschloss for ten minutes, telling my story of the Vietnam Era. He never heard anything like it before. And John Dean, Nixon’s counsel from the Watergate era, broke up my first marriage; he laughed when I told him that and asked if I re-married. A few years before Dean, I got a chance to hug another hero of mine, Ben Bradlee after a Columbia University address; Bradlee (portrayed in the movie ‘All the President’s Men’ by Jason Robards) was the editor of the Washington Post and dispatched Woodward and Bernstein to begin the Watergate journey. Mayor Cory Booker whispered life extension thoughts to me. To former N.J. Governor Thomas Kean, at a Monmouth University lecture, I presented him with a picture of his father, Representative Robert Kean and me in the Capitol Rotunda in 1957. And with another former N.J. Governor, Richard Codey, I got to tell him that I helped to embarrass the State of New Jersey and Rutgers University in 2005 into coming up with funds to help students travel to a Rutgers bowl game in Phoenix.
College experiences abound. At Rutgers Law School, I’m a regular at New Jersey Environmental Federation conferences and back in New Brunswick I frequent an old fashioned college bar, ‘The Olive Branch’ (for their Greek salad) where names from the sixties are carved into wooden tables. A few blocks away is 170 year old ‘Geology Hall’ that has the most inviting steps for sitting and pondering the universe and low salt diets (health consciousness). At Rider University I’ve been a frequent visitor to their amazing student theatre and at Princeton University; a magical kingdom of antiquity and intellect; even their basketball gymnasium has me arriving an hour before the game to sit in its cathedral like chamber and meditate; at Brookdale College- Monmouth Museum I frequent their emerging New Jersey artist series.
I don’t just go to events on college campuses; I also get involved in alumni and athletic booster groups, Student Center speed networking to impart learned responses to graduating students, watching away football games just off campus and tapping into a keg of beer for a friendly game of beer pong. I have extremely long arms which facilitates competitiveness.
It all adds up. Last year I spent 70 days on a college campus. There is youth in them there campuses. My time there yields a sense of vitality, youth with gratitude to the universe for affording me proximity to college life. Playing off a little Shakespeare (never liked him), “Get thee to a college campus if carrying one of those four letter cards you get on an inauspicious 55th birthday.”