University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
The University of Wisconsin Collection

Page View

Schoenfeld, Clay (ed.) / Wisconsin alumnus
Volume 49, Number 9 (June 1948)

Steinman, Sam
I didn't want to leave--ever,   pp. 32-[33]

Page 32

y 5andfd */a4 k eeaĆ½4
   IF I WERE to tell you who live in Madison that yours is the home
town in the United States that approaches most closely my concep-
tion of Shangri-La, you might call me daft.
   But you never really get to miss anything until you are away
from it. If your city is a great place-good enough to create a linger-
ing desire to return in the hearts of thousands of folk, you can find
it out only through listening to the testimony of those who passed this way
and left for other places.
  My home always has been in the East and I have lived in many places. My
work is in New York and its neighboring metropolitan area. I know more people
in New York and New Jersey than I
do in Wisconsin or in Madison. By ev-  By SAM     STEINMAN, '32
ery token and for every reason, my ties
should be very secure to the Eastern   * The author is what you
seaboard, but my thoughts ever tend to
come back to Madison. The day never    might call a sentimental-
will come when I will cease to think of ist. At least the trip    he
Madison as my second home town.               ..
               * *  *
   Of course, my ties were strongest to
 the University, but my love is shared,
 for it is the city of Madison as well as
 the University of Wisconsin. There
 were times when   town  and  gown
 clashed. For instance, when the police
 tried to take all cars off Langdon St.
 during the night, and we felt they
 were in cahoots with local garage
 owners. We were irked with the fire
 department when they extinguished the
 blaze which burned the "berrycrate
 shell'"-for the umpteenth time-in the
 middle of Lake St. And we were pro-
 voked with the minions of the law when
 they locked us in the local gaol for
 wresting-the hose from the fireman and
 cutting it into souvenir bits.
 We laughed at the Madison trolley
 cars and we would congregate on the
 rear platforms and we would jump up
 and down to rock the cars, sometimes
 derailing them.
 But we'd also help push them back
 on the track.
 .We'd kid the local aldermen and
 threaten marches on the city hall when
 problems threatened the welfare of the
 University community.
 All of these things were not signs
 that we were apart from the civic
 community. On the contrary, we were
 very much a part of it. It was our
 own peculiar way of taking part in
 its life. After all, we were very young
in those days.
  It takes a lot of thinking back to
determine just what makes a Madison-
ian, if I may call myself one.
  It was shortly after I had finished
high school. I had a good job on a New
York newspaper and I had decided
against going to college. Madison was
a place about which I knew nothing
except that I always rattled it off' when
I wanted to prove that I knew the
capital cities of all 48 states. I didn't
even know about the four lakes.
  When I meet anyone who doesn't
know that much today, I consider him
pretty ignorant.
  At any rate, I went to a party with
one of my fellow-workers one night and
he told me he planned to go to the
University of Wisconsin. Then    he
showed me the application blank he had
received. And he noticed for the first
time he had been sent two instead of
   made Irom iNew York to
   Madison last year was a
   sentimental journey. In
   his years at the Univer-
   sity, Sam was what they
   label a BMOC-editor
   of the Daily Cardinal,
   Haresfoot author, etc.
   Since the day he "didn't
   want to leave," but had
   to, he's been a news-
   paperman, labor concili-
   ator, and public relations
   expert. He came back to
   the campus for Com-
   mencement and Reunion
   last Spring. Here's why.
one. He coaxed me to fill it out and to
come along with him.
  I nah-nahed him. Then he tried
another approach.
  He suggested I fill it out iust to see
if I would be accepted. I did.
  A few weeks later, he was rejected
and I was accepted. And that is just
where the matter would have rested
had not the newspaper for which I
worked gone out of business the fol-
lowing year. I wrote again to Wiscon-
sin and the reply was that I was still
acceptable. The die was cast.
  One   damp  September  evening  I
changed trains in Chicago, and was en
route to Madison, farther west than I
had ever gone before in my life. I
walked through the entire train, but
rary a soul did I recognize. Everyone
else seemed to know someone and I
knew no one. I began to have my mis-
  We arrived in Madison late at night.
I watched the crowds dissipate and in
almost no time I had the entire North
Western station to myself. Somehow I
had felt that I would recognize some-
one, but there was no familiar face. I
had arrived in a strange world, a
strange city. And if there had been a
train back that night, I think it might
have been my last visit to Madison.
   From then on everything went right.
   The hill in all of its last of summer
 beauty, new friends, classes, the first
 day the Memorial Union was open for
 student use-the Rathskeller was for
 men only in those days--and lots of
   We attended a rally at which we
 were introduced to three men. One was
 a professor in a funny vest named
 Fish. Another was a big man named
 Little. And a third was a dean named
   It took a long time before I was con-
 vinced that the whole thing hadn't been
 a stunt and that the names were real.
   There was the Varsity Welcome
 when everyone overlooked the sprinkle
 of rain because "it never rained on
 Olson". Glenn Frank told us to study
 carefully and covered up the fact that
 Lindbergh had flunked out by stating
 that Lindbergh had been busy think-
 ing of visions ahead. A football season
 came and Wisconsin nearly won the
 elusive Big Ten title it is still seeking.
 We marched back from Camp Randall
 stadium with the band. Some people
 prefer "On Wisconsin" and "Varsity"
 my favorite has always been "If You
 Want to Be a Badger."
              * * *
   All of these things made us feel we
 belonged, but I began to belong much
   It began one day shortly after the
 beginning of school. Freshman caps
 were optional for the first time that
 fall, but'I wore one for the first two or
 three months. I was walking around
 the square one afternoon shortly after
 class had begun, and one of the mer-
 chants greeted me, "Hi-ya, Frosh!"
 I belonged.
 Four years and a summer session
 passed . . . St. Pat's parades in April
 because it was too cold in March,
 dramatics, publications, parties.
 There was the Rocking Chair inci-
 dent and the Junior Woman letter. I
 knew about the Kappa tombstones, but
 I didn't tell. Someone suggested a col-
 umn on the Daily Cardinal and I be-
 came "The Rambler," and I had a lot
 of fun until everyone knew who was
 writing it. There were the Gridiron
 b a n q u e t s and the anti-university
 speeches in the legislature. I recall the
 sensational headlines in a Milwaukee
 paper when we awakened one morning
 to find a red flag nailed to the mast of
 Bascom hall.
 I will never forget the thrill of my
 first by-line in the Cardinal, the initials
 only-bestowed upon me by the.-news
 editor, one Roy Matson-for interview-
 ing Charles Curtis, United States sen-
 ator from Kansas, and second half of
 the Hoover and Curtis ticket, when he
 passed through Madison in 1928.
 The first days of 30-odd below and a
 hockey game that ended at 1:30 a. m.
 on the lower campus.
 I came to know the men and women
of the city of Madison as I lived with
them for four years and the people of
the state of Wisconsin as they passed
this way and as I visited about the

Go up to Top of Page