My wife, young daughter, and I lived in Butler from 1964 to 1966 (Inbox, Sept. 18). The little one in the picture [next page] is now 50! To a married graduate student, Butler offered something that was extraordinary for the time. In the academic community, there is often a faculty row where the professors and their families live. It is a community where intellectual pursuits merge and ideas are discussed and shared, both socially and academically. It is a microcosm of the inheritors of the mantle from the previous generation.
That describes life at Butler exactly. It is the prequel where one observes the next generation of inheritors living together in a “pre-faculty” row. The living conditions, albeit somewhat primitive, could not have been a more accurate look into the future. Even those who did not choose an academic career, as I did not, loved the unique opportunity that might never again be possible. We spent many profitable evenings discussing our research, books we read, politics, careers ahead of us, etc.
My Ph.D. was paid for by NASA (Sputnik-inspired), which, in addition to my tuition, paid a living allowance of $640 every two months. It made “Europe on $5 a day” a luxurious way to travel.
Those wonderful days of Butler poverty turned out to be the most important catalyst to the decisions that mapped my future.
If I had the chance to relive and change the past, I wouldn’t have altered a thing in my years at Princeton.