July 31, 2011

Sketching pictures began back in radio days

If you are unaware of what "Gittles" might be, I'm here to explain them.

When I began my Plattsburgh broadcasting career more than 50 years ago, I continued what I now call subliminal art.

As a child in school, I was sometimes severely reprimanded for drawing pictures while the teacher was giving us a lesson. I was called a daydreamer, and indeed I was; but I always learned the lesson and comprehended its content as well or better than my classmates, sometimes to the teacher's dismay.

It took almost 70 years for science to finally recognize that one can concentrate better when doodling or drawing pictures. Rather than being a distraction, it turns out to be a learning enhancement. I continued the practice throughout high school and college.

For the first two years, other real and imagined distractions caused me real grief and led to dismissal from the first school and failure at the second.

The advent of what is now Stony Brook University on Long Island was my savior and, in retrospect, was an educational experience that can never be duplicated. Tuition was free for in-state residents and was supplemented by an academic scholarship.

The temporary campus was converted from a fabulous Long Island estate called Planting Fields, and the setting for an experimental college was fabulous.

Classes were held in the former Coe family manor house, resembling a European castle. There were gold-plated bathroom fixtures with marble counters, giant medieval paintings, elk and moose heads in the library and a gigantic fireplace in the "great room," with long wooden tables replete with spur marks from hundreds of years ago.

Every tree and shrub on the immaculately manicured grounds was identified by a plaque. Greenhouses contained unique orchids and other rare flora. Former horse stables and jockey's quarters were transformed into dormitory rooms and a cafeteria.

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