Chapter 19 – Saying Good-bye

Wooster’s Kauke Arch in 1947

Richard gets together with old New York friends Jerry Pospisil and Dick Frothingham at a rathskeller in the midst of the Christmas snowfall of ’48 that leaves New York at a total standstill. Before leaving for his final semester at Wooster, Richard is elected national chairperson of the National Student League. He travels to Ottawa to represent the Student League at the Canadian Cooperative Commonwealth University Federation (CCUF) convention. His recent co-op farm experience in Saskatchewan wins him connections among the CCUF delegates. He turns his attention to choosing a seminary. His course on Niebuhr with Robert Bonthius, Wooster’s religion professor, confirms his decision to attend Union Theological Seminary. Richard is accepted at Union and he leaves Wooster with the recognition of the college’s contribution to his expansion as a person and to his religious and political development.

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2 thoughts on “Chapter 19 – Saying Good-bye

  1. avatarRichard Frothingham

    On our meeting at the Rathskeller, December 1948.
    A few minor corrections and additions. Dick, you and I went to the College of Wooster, not Wooster College. Careless of you to slip up on that! Also, you were not looking for news fresh from the campus from me in December 1948, because I finished up there in the summer of 1948 and got my degree at the next meeting of the Trustees, which was at Homecoming Weekend, in October 1948. (The fall semester of 1948 was the first of my five semesters at the Oberlin Graduate School of Theology, in Ohio, from which I graduated in spring 1951.) And you may have met with Jerry at MAPC to go down to the Rathskeller, but I traveled down there separately and met you guys there. I was spending Christmas with my Aunt Charlotte who lived on Broadway near West 150th Street and I traveled to the Rathskeller on the 7th Ave. IRT to the 42nd Street shuttle and then the East Side IRT to 14th or 18th Street. Also, Jerry brought a date with him to our gathering, so there were four of us, not just three.
    Other comments:
    Rathskeller, literally “cellar of the town council” and by extension a restaurant at such a location, is an old fashioned spelling. Modern dictionaries give the current spelling at Ratskeller. I am not sure when the spelling changed. Perhaps those who immigrated to USA in the early 1800s used the older spelling and they and their descendants kept it going in their restaurants. You can look up the Rathskeller that we went to, on the Internet. I think the Internet said it was at 17 St. and 3rd Ave. According to some Internet entries, it was first called Scheffel Hall, named after a popular 19th century German poet, Joseph Victor von Scheffel (1826-1886); and decorating its wall are murals illustrating Scheffel’s long narrative poem, The Trumpeter of Saekkingen (1854), A photo on the Internet shows the inscription, Scheffel Hall, still there over the entrance. The hall was eventually renamed after the restaurant, When the restaurant closed, other restaurants occupied the premises, where a yoga and pilates studio is now located.
    From my trip to the Rathskeller, I have vivid memory of the Grand Central-42nd Street IRT station, where a huge crowd was clustered at the staircase leading to the IRT trains that ran to Queens. I overheard people saying that the trains to Queens had been canceled because the IRT tracks that run above ground all through Queens were covered with snow. People were saying it was the worst blizzard anyone could remember.
    I recall that we had a good time at the Rathskeller but I cannot remember anything specific that was said there.
    After dinner and drinking beer at the Rathskeller, we went over to Fifth Avenue and followed it down to Greenwich Village. It was from walking along 5th Avenue that I recall the sights you mentioned of vehicles stalled and people walking and singing in the middle of the avenue. Our walking freely in the middle of 5th Ave. without having to worry about traffic made a strong impression on me.
    In the village we went into a coffee house where I remember very dark paneling and that we were just about the only ones there. We had coffee or cocoa there.
    I presume that you and Jerry returned home on the East Side IRT. I was worried that the West Side IRT might be closed because of the snow (it runs above ground for a while, including the stretch just south and just north of west 125th Street). So I went back on the Independent Subway’s 8th Ave. Line. The Independent Line ran entirely underground, so I was pretty sure that it would not be closed; and indeed it did stay open during and after the blizzard.

    1. avatarMargaret

      It’s great to have your memory of events added to this blog. I’m not surprised my dad’s story-teller’s instincts streamlined the facts.

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