Monday, April 25, 2016

Fun, Work and Suffering

When I wrote my post on Brooklyn I omitted one important part of my experience when I first came to America. That's my fellow students. They fell into several categories. There were a few sent by their religious orders to expand their knowledge of Latin and Greek. I especially remember Fr. John Gubbins, a friendly and smiling individual. There were some teachers who were working for a higher degree or adding coursework to their current transcripts. Jeanette (and I can't remember her last name) was about my age and we spent some time together, but Jane Smith is the character I most remember. She was certainly much older than me and she took me under her wing. It was Jane who took me to my first football game. Remember, I was at USC, so there was a Trojan riding in on a white horse, and a couple of dozen bronze, blue-eyed surfer types waving pom poms and forming precarious pyramids. And of course the burly guys, playing a strange game with an oval ball. In later years I learned to loved it, but at the time I had no idea what was going on.

My best friends, and the students I spent most time with, were Rory Egan and Joe Margon. Rory was a Canadian who lived outside Toronto and had done his undergraduate work in Windsor (as I was to learn later that's just across the river from Detroit.) We met up with Rory and his wife a few years ago to see plays at Stratford. Dr. Rory is now in Manitoba and has not changed one bit.

All these years we have kept Joe's dissertation. It is entitled "Antigone:A Study in Critical Method". It was presented to his committee in June 1968. By this time I was just about to have my second child, but Joe and I had started together, both of us working for our Ph.D degree. The older I get the more I regret that I have not asked people in my life more of their history. We seem to live in the present, and that was certainly true of Joe as we went from class to class. (Usually late if it was Ernie's class, so goes the myth.) After our day was over Joe rushed off to his wife and family (Joe was at least twenty years older than me). I knew where he lived. A long trip: over some mountains—or were they hills? I know his wife, Saritha, was an artist and I believe she is still working and mounting exhibitions. I know he used to work for Warner Brothers. I think his job was deciding which books would make good movies. And I think he was working on his own book.

I don't think you write ded
ications to diss
tions, but Joe wrote this in the copy he gave us. Strange, after all these year I hardly remember the fun, work and suffering, but it is always there. What I failed to recognize at the time was how much work Greek entailed for Joe. I had been studying it for eight years in England: Joe, as virtually all Americans, did not have that luxury.

It all paid off and Dr. Joseph Margon had a great career teaching at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

In 1980 Ernie went to California for a conference and had the opportunity to meet up with Joe in Santa Barbara. He is dead now, but this is the way I will always remember a dear, dear friend.

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