Before Ronald Reagan

I see in the news that they have arrested a woman for paying $400,000 to get her non-soccer playing son into UCLA on a soccer scholarship. I guess someone has to pay for those multi-level carparks and all that avocado toast at the CO-OP.

When I was planning for college they offered me $140 a semester and I didn’t even play soccer. How could I refuse? Of course in terms of today’s dollars this seems a paltry sum but back then it was more than enough to sway my decision.


If you can remember (or even imagine) the University of California was tuition free to all residents: the $145 was to cover my student fees. Yes, the government of California provided FREE EDUCATION (before Ronald Reagan). I still had to cough up for my room and board ($110 in the dorm for the first two years then $95 a month for an apartment until I graduated) and for all my books and supplies. Note that I was a wee bairn when my father went to college on the post-war GI Bill and he actually had his books and supplies plaid for.

Money was very tight back then. I was a sophomore before I squandered a dime in the vending machine for a cold orange pop and I can only think of a single trip to The Hamburger Hamlet for a big, bloody burger, but I was treated by my good friend so that doesn’t really count (I did have a delicious hot dog on a steamed bun with baked beans at the Orange Julius once to demonstrate my decadent side).

Oh, there was The Apple Pan, but that’s less a food story than a religious experience.

Of course back then Mickey Mantle earned $100 thousand and a pack of bubblegum cards was a nickel (bubblegum without cards was still a penny). Even in High School when I started the evil habit of smoking, a pack of Camels was 19 cents (25 cents from a vending machine). I remember seeing a film where a swinging New York couple stopped at a cocktail lounge to get cigarettes and the blonde asked her beau for two quarters for the machine. Fifty cents a pack! That and Bennett Cerf were my most indelible memories of New York City (before I actually moved there).

Not to worry, I stopped smoking over thirty years ago, right up to the day the man who instituted charging for education in California vacated the White House and went back to his horsies.

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