Jack Spillane: A word about college costs for the temporary poets and farmers – News – southcoasttoday.com

Somewhere around 1973 my father asked my brother and I what we planned on doing for a living when we finished college.

We were both halfway through Salem State and it was the counter-culture era. We were filled with idealism and thoughts of how we were going to change the world. But the truth is that neither of us had a clue about what we were going to do for a living.

Even though we had both worked part-time jobs since we were in our early teens it was not clear to either of us that we were actually capable of making a living, as in a real career.

My dad, who’d already been a gunner on a Navy delivery ship making supply runs from Antwerp to Murmansk when he was 19, and was married by the time he was 23, didn’t really get us.

My brother may remember it differently but my recollection is that our father, who had the frightening responsibility of eight children, knew that making a good living was hard. And he was practical about it. And knew that you needed to have some skills, which at the time neither my brother nor I had.

By the time I was a junior, I thought, a bit disappointingly, that I was probably headed toward being a teacher, maybe a lawyer or a college professor if I put my mind to it. But I didn’t want to be pinned down. To annoy my father, I told him I wanted to be a poet. Definitely too many English literature classes at Salem State.

Exasperated, my dad then pressed my geography major brother, who finally blurted out that he wanted to be a farmer. Remember, it was 1973 and we were all going back to nature.

At some point, I remember my father looking at my mother and saying that he must have done something wrong.

Anyway, it’s near 45 years later and I did not become a poet and my brother did not become a farmer. But we both had long professional careers suited to our personalities and talents — myself as a journalist and my brother as a manager.

The thing was that in 1973, Salem State cost about…

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