University of Minnesota

“If It Isn’t Fun.” ā€“ The End of Adolescence

Within a week of arrival in New Orleans, I had shed my Navy monkey suit, the bell-bottoms Iā€™d worn for a year and a half, and donned a midshipman’s uniform, an act that symbolically, at least, made a man out of a boy.

The very morning I passed the medical exam. I found a rental room within walking distance of the Tulane uptown campus, at the boarding house of a garrulous, motherly landlady. Her old frame house was dark and dingy, odors of down-home cuisine permeating the rooms. A smelly gas heater created a warm center of comfort in the otherwise somber quarters.

A $150 green government check burned a hole in the pocket of my new middie uniform until I bought first-year textbooks at the Tulane bookstore. Then, after finding my locker in the basement of old Richardson Hall, I strolled lighthearted and free through the soft fall mists along the Mississippi levee to the French Quarter. Back from the brink, with a new life in front of me.

A few months later, following the first semester of medical school, we heard the news one morning in the canteen that our class standings had just been posted in Richardson Hall. Roy Ledbetter and I raced across campus to see them. As I recall, he stood fourth in our class; I stood fifth. Though I was 19, that day was, for me, the end of adolescence.

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