This reminds me of the acidly cynical words of Paul Simon's old song "Kodachrome".
At that time I reasonably suspect he was forced to be far more "circumspect" about his "black and white" (AKA Bull!!!) that we need to be today.
Albeit, at the age of 70 I have seen a lot, and ardently chose to knowing very well ,against all odds, why I needed to!
Nonetheless, as early as the age of 5 (about 1949, when I five year old was regarded as a baby), In my own little way, I saw the dangers of anything less than the whole acid truth!
No doctor or psychologist at the time would have had any inking about what "Little Brucie" truly was, and certainly not my parents. The elephant memory with its inexorable and exhaustive explicitness would make the point givent the speaking time!
In High school, I wanted to go to McGill and become an engineer. Money was no object. My parents were not poor even if they were not millionares).
However, McGill, being short of seats at the time demanded very competitive entrance exams, not only in math and sciences, but also in the humanities e.g. History and literature. These 2 subjects I would typically have marks on the range of 13%. Try as I might, I was not able to improve them, even going to summer school etc.
Tech School Trauma:
Nobody seemed to know why at the time, but today I DO, but at my age this is for posterity more than it ever will be for me. I will only glean the altruistic joy if posterity is ready, willing and able to benefit from what I have fought most of a lifetime to exorcise!
Added to that, the English school system in Quebec at the time also had another problem in their own right, and that still pervades to this day,albeit with a slightly different face.
They regarded all the young students as either "Board room material" or "drop-out bums", nothing in between.
At the time, I was socializong with a noce group of teenagers in the local Y.M.C.A. at that time. I would sometimes walk 5 miles in the dead of wintern night, and aacross a part of a frozen lake to get there. I knew the dangers of the ice, and that if I fell through I would not come back alive, but I also knew what not to approach to survive.
Well, in spite of all, I am still very alive!
On one Wednesday evening with that group, A special converstion arose.
But first, note that I only knew these teenagers from there, as they were part of a different community and schiool board's schools.
As the conversation opened, one of the others there remarked to another:
"Alex, we haven't seen you for a while. What are you doing?"
Alex then replied "I am taking auto mechanics at L'ecole du metiere de l'automobile, corner of Pine and St. Denis."
(At that time such a thing, and in French when bilingualism in Quebec was far,far from what it is today, this was like a foreign country, )
Immediately Alex was bgombnarded with every student question imagineable from all.
While I am known to be a very talkative person, I also listen and talk at the same time - much less noticed!
This time I was dead silent, and ears wide open.
The more the questions and answers were forthcoming, thr more attentive I was. Both my mother and were very worrined about my education and future aas it had been markedkly problematic through high school, albeit mised with a lot of intensive peer violence.
(I did not want the violence and normallty tried to avoid it as aggressively ans I could, and at a time when bullying was not regulated in schools as it is today at all!)
As I sat listening, I realized that this might be the answer to my educational crisis.
When the questions subsided, I had one more question:
"Alex! do they also have electronics?"
Alex replied: Yes! if fact that is what most of the guys are taking, but that is at Montreal Institue of Technology, 200 Sherbrooks St. W.)"
YOU COULD NOT STOP ME!! I grilled Alex with every relevfant student question imagineable.
Then, now at home I said to my mother: "Mom, I need bus money" and followed with the whole story.
"Bus money" at the time was about the equivalent of $16.00 in today's money to get downtown and back, some 20 miles each way, and that did not include the city buses.
I had the money immediately which would not have been the case for much else.
So Downtown I went on the appropriate day and sat through the introductory session. In this we were told that we could enter with Grade 9 and go through prep year with its shop stages, or we could enter at the grade 11 level and, joined by the prep grads from the previous year, pass 3 years of specialization, culminating in the << Diplome d'etudes technique >>. this was essentially a community college diploma, not a university degree. However as the school received about 1350 applications each year and could only accommodate 850 in the available space, we would have to write very competitive entrance exams, and there would also be aggressive weedng out in the first year.
After that, I want to ask: "I have my grade 11, but my ,math was not well taught in the latter years. If I don't make it with the grade 11 group, can I reuse the results to qualify with the grade 9's. I don't mind the extra year."
"Yes, I could do that" a small relief in the crisis.
On the second trip into town we w the entrance exams, and were told to return for the results on a specified date later...
On that third trip, when the results were read, first for the Grade 11 groupo, I was not in the list, so I was somewhat anxious.
When the grade 9 list was read, and I was also not in the list, I was VERY anxious, so I went up to the desk to find out why, as I dod not suspect it to be the marks on the exam.
Nothing significant was forthcoming, so, back hoime with the disconceritng news, I told my mother.
Nonetheless, I did get in, but not by the normal method.
The school was very beholding to its employers that hired the graduates.
While nothing explicit was ever said my parents, being upper middle class were friends with many of these companies' executives.
And so, my reasonable surmise was that by what was known oin the day as "pull" or influence, at some private dinner party some or all of these executives would have heard the message and behind the scenes told the school more or less, that they would be well behoved to accept me anyway or they would not get their graduates hired as they would like.
In the first year, as we did our stages, each with a hands on project, I would have ready an alternative project covering excatly the same skills but far more advanced and complicated, and ace them all from a pragmatic point of view, in many and diverse trade specialties.
During the first trimester, one of the teachers sent a nasty letter to us threatening to get me out of there. Upsetting as it was, it blew over. Simply pout the teacher had no authority to intervene, as he was an employee. Had that been known to the management, he would likely have been in trouble himself.
At the end of the first trimester of first year "actually my second year there because of prep year), Mr. De Koning, the chemistry teacher entered the class and announced" I have just returned form the staff meeting and we have all your results of the Christmas exams. We know who is to stay and who must go."
As you can well imagine, the whole class was extremely excited, but not just on their own accounts. I had a personality of a hated person! they were just as hopeful that I would be weeded out.
As Mr. de Koning went through the list, some would stay others would leave. But at the end of the ist there had been no mention of me.
(Note: If it were not for the fact that given the years, Mr. de Konig would now be either retired or deceased, I could not have used his name, in respect of protecting his career and reputation from abuse.)
In reply, Mr. DeKoning faced me and said" Bruce, you have a 755 general average, amply good enough to stay, but you havre all the teachers lined up in 2 camps as to whether you will stay or go."
You can imagine the uproar of the class, but in the end the teachers were all employees and had no such authority more than the teacher who had written the improper letter, consequently I stayed, not withstanding the salient "dirty little secrets".
By the end of third year, in the spring of 1987, I graduated on the Friday, moved out of home on the same weekend so I could get to work for 8AM the Monday and that same weekend Expo 67, Montreal's world fair started.
Realizing that Expo was a once in a lifetime opportunity, I decided to do nothing more than eat, sleep, work and Expo for the 6 month duration of expo, then aradjust at the end of that. And so began a long, tumultuous exciting, and highly diverse career, albeit another long, exceptional and complex story for another occasion - Some baby!
In its time, Montreal Instutute of Technology had a 60 year standing reputation of being one of the best tech schools in Quebec.
In 1963 we had done a small survey of 30 of ourselves to see what languages people spoke then. All 30 were fluently bilingual and 10 spoke 3 or more languages fluently, hightly exceptional at the time! The third languages were anything and everything one might have imagined.
My thesis earned a mark of 87% as I graduated (14th of 29 remaining of the original 90 or so in the so-called English section.)
This, in spite of the rule that arbitrarily lost 1% per day the typed version was late. At the time I had to wait 10 days for a neighbour who was to type it, as she was then typing a doctoral thesis for McGill.
Obviously had it not been for the lateness the mark would have been 97%, but as that school closed its last year in existence, one of the teachers who had been there for many yuears remarked of my thesis that it was one of the very few engineering level theses they had seen from a tech studfent in that 60 year history.
For the geeky types of today,: when we started they were teaching us about vacuum tubes. By second year they qwere dealing with the rudiments of transistors. By the time I did my thesis, my design of an autopolarity sample and hold electronic voltmeter includee vauum tubes, gas filld tubes, transistors and field effect transistors.
At that time Field effect transistors were the bleeding edgoe of electronics, the first few examples having been out on the market by Texas Instruments.
History repeats itself! Everybody knows it, few respect it! to the Millennials and posterity, yoiu can do uit too in your time, where there's a will there's a way!