In my father’s house there was no distinction between our state’s capital and Ohio State; they were synonymous. Years later I learned just how different they were.

Columbus is a great, growing city. Ohio State, although it hosted the best years of my life, is…at the end of the day…a callous business. This, by the way, is difficult for me: I used to bleed scarlet and gray.

When we were young we went to Columbus by train. Sleeping downtown at the Neil House, hitting campus an hour pre-game, we’d marvel as our father paced the closed end of the stadium finding tickets from scalpers. “Wait ‘til kickoff. Trust me,” he’d urge: “Prices will drop.”

Those were simpler times—before Ohio State was “The” Ohio State. We’d walk High then take that long drive out Main to Emil’s to view desserts in a showcase. (Did I mention our dad weighed 350?).

Columbus. Ohio State. All the same.

I idolized Al Bogart and genetically he transmitted his affinity for Columbus. Sophomore year Dad relocated to central Ohio, renting in the heart of campus. Like I said—even then, to my father in his 40’s, Columbus and Ohio State—one and the same.

It was a woman, of course, that showed him the light. He called her “Beautiful Harriet,” and when they married Al Bogart moved off campus for good…to the real Columbus. My kinship with the city only grew. There was a whole community out there…with adults, warm, loving people. Our Dad, of course, fit right in, easily melding with not only his new family, but the same milieu of Damon Runyon characters he’d left in Cleveland.

It felt like a home. Senior year, anticipating marriage, I asked The Jersey Girl about spending the rest of our lives there. To her it was a cow town. I can’t actually say she declined, though—she never let me finish the question.

The first pedal fell off the rose in ‘72. I’d graduated with a stratospheric accum. Mature Bruce, however, went from an all-night card game directly to the 8-hour law boards, faring poorly. Sensing I could do better, my dad and I met with some counselor in the Student Union. “Take the boards again, increase your score by 50…and we’ll accept you.”

So I did what I was told, retook the tests and improved 120. Rejected again.

AB was outraged. His school would never do that! It gave its word! Incensed, he not only called the state house, but got an appointment. And so it was that we met with Governor John Gilligan—live and in person.

The state’s Chief Executive listened then spoke: “Sorry, gentleman, I can’t tell those guys uptown what to do. I’m only the governor.”

I forgave the school at the time; my father, a Jim Rhodes Republican, blamed Democrat Gilligan. The fact was, and is, that the university is bigger than the state. The fact was, and is that the school I was so committed to wouldn’t honor its commitment to me.

Years later the schism between city and State was drawn with indelible ink again. At issue was something more important that a school admission—it was a school expulsion.

Freshman year our daughter was the victim of a violent crime. She sought counsel with her school and justice from the state. Only the state came through. Even worse, Stace learned her assailant had been accused of a sexual assault by another women just weeks prior. The school had not charged him; he remained on campus.

The few miles of High Street never seemed longer. Franklin County’s Prosecutor listened and followed through. Securing the appropriate indictment, pursuing a just conviction, it honored its commitment to do the right thing. The school, however, stayed uptown.

To her credit, as OSU stonewalled her, Stacy took action. Rather than remain in anonymity like so many victims, she came forward. For her efforts she was awarded the Jean Clery Award by Security On Campus, Inc. for “extraordinary effort to make college students safer.” (Shame… that it was even necessary).

To this day I love Columbus and all IT stands for. Family thrives there; our dad’s buried there…. Used to be on trips back we’d exit 71 at Hudson, cruise down High, reminisce, then shoot out the freeway to the cemetery. No more.

Today I separate the reverie of Columbus from the actions of the college.
Reluctantly recalling our daughter’s travails—how her school: the school of her parents, uncle, aunt, grandparents, friends…how The School let her down…I just can’t feel like I used to. The thrill is gone.

Like I said, I used to bleed scarlet and gray—proudly. But they bailed on my kid—they did. So now my memory just bleeds.

Leave a Reply