Paying the $20,000 Duchesne
tuition was always a struggle for me, but things grew much worse in 2008.
With one year to go at Sam's school before college, I was dismayed
to realize I could no longer pay the bill out of pocket.
especially tight at home due to a difficult
new landlord at the dance studio. This landlord declared half of my parking
lot off limits for his own use. Since his plastic surgery
business operated by day and my dance studio operated by night,
his selfish action made no sense. However, plead and argue
as I might, the doctor could have cared less.
the man was risky and very costly. I was
advised not to take chances I couldn't afford to
Since my lease had less than two years left, it was
easier to throw in the towel and wait for the lease
to expire, then move... which is what the landlord
wanted all along. He was just hoping I would go
2008 was a very bitter time for me.
This was the beginning of the end of my involvement in SSQQ. After what
this man put me through, I would never sign another
lease, especially not at the age of 60. So I
decided to sell the studio in 2010, a move that I would have preferred
not to make. But then we would not have this book, would
Now that my landlord had
confiscated half my parking lot, I no longer had
sufficient parking for my customers. Each night half my dance students
were forced to walk a mile to take a dance class. Thanks to the long walk, attendance rapidly
tapered off... and so did my income. This was the modern
equivalent of damming a creek upstream and causing the crops of the downstream farmer
profitable business was barely breaking even. Now the monthly
struggle of paying my daughter's tuition at Duchesne became a
much tougher burden than usual. There was no way to
make ends meet.
I had three choices.
Send Sam to public school, dip into savings or ask for financial
Transferring Sam to a public
school - my father's solution for me eons ago - was unthinkable.
Sam was about to become a
high school Senior. I refused to do that to her.
Since money was so tight, I considered asking for a half scholarship...
So I contacted the school.
I expected a simple interview, but what I got instead was a thick envelope
that came in the mail. The moment I saw the size of that envelope, I shook my head
in dismay. It contained a lengthy ten-page form I was
supposed to fill out to initiate the scholarship process. The
of that form was depressing.
The final straw was
the essay part... "Why is the parent unable to pay full tuition at this
time?" "Why does the parent feel this student deserves a
Over the past 13 years, Duchesne had
learned I was a reliable, conscientious parent who
always paid his bills on time. Nevertheless,
my good will was ignored the one time I asked
for help. Based on my reputation, I expected an interview.
received this impersonal package in return.
I was angry. There was no way I
was going to spend an entire day filling out these forms.
I wasn't too keen on begging for money in the first place, but
this mountain of paperwork convinced me this was not an avenue I
wished to pursue. No doubt that was one of the intents of
the onerous package, yes?
I decided I would be better off
simply tapping my savings account instead. I
would rather pay $10,000 than go through this process.
However, as I stared at that
ten page form, something began to nag at me.
Back in 1968, my mother never had to fill out a single
page of financial aid paperwork for Johns Hopkins. In
fact, she received no contact at all. Why was my mother
able to escape a similar headache?
Something was wrong here.
Forty years earlier,
a letter from Johns Hopkins had showed up in my mailbox
one week after my visit with Ralph O'Connor.
Out of nowhere, Hopkins had handed me a
full college scholarship.
Since neither my mother nor I had requested
financial aid, I gave full credit to Ralph O'Connor. As well I
should! During my visit, Mr. O'Connor had casually asked about
my financial status and I had given him a five
minute rundown. I remember how he nodded
thoughtfully at my explanation. The next thing
I knew, this scholarship appeared.
At the time, I figured Mr. O'Connor had told
was poor and they took his word for it.
I didn't give it another
thought... until now. Here in 2008, the original scenario no longer made any sense to me.
Why didn't Hopkins
first send my mother a financial questionnaire similar to the
Duchesne ten page form prior to issuing news of my scholarship?
This realization really
nagged at me.
had known me for 13 years, but they expected
me to jump through hoops just like any other
contrast, Johns Hopkins had offered a four-year
scholarship to some kid they didn't know, a kid
who had not even asked for help.
Hopkins scholarship was worth well over $100,000 in
today's money, ten times the amount I wanted from
Duchesne. Duchesne wanted me to move mountains
in return for $10,000, but Johns Hopkins would give
an unknown kid $100,000 no questions asked.
Yes, indeed, something was wrong here.
still convinced that Ralph O'Connor had arranged my
scholarship, but now I was curious why he was so
trusting of what I told him.
Ralph O'Connor that Rick Archer... a young man he had never previously met in
his life... was worthy of a $100,000
Then it hit me. Of
course. It had to be Mr. Salls. Why didn't I think of that
40 years ago??
made perfect sense. There
could no doubt Mr. Salls had briefed Mr.
O'Connor as to my difficult home life and financial
situation prior to my visit. Mr. O'Connor knew he was going to
request that Hopkins help me financially
before I even walked in the door.
All he wanted from me was to hear my side of the
story for confirmation on what Mr. Salls had told
Recalling that I had later met three other St.
John's students up at Hopkins, I had come to the
conclusion that Mr. Salls and Mr. O'Connor had an
arrangement to recruit one SJS student per year to
go to school in Baltimore.
Each year Mr.
Salls would recommend a student. If the student was
'needy', Mr. O'Connor would turn around and make sure
Hopkins would handle the tuition. Mr. Salls and Mr.
O'Connor had done this with Doug in 1966 and with Charles in
So who would their
candidate be for 1968?