Wednesday, June 9, 2010

How I Ran Away from Home

Forty-five years ago this week, I ran away from home. Let me tell you how it happened.

I graduated from Lexington (Illinois) High School in 1961 and that fall went off to college. All of 17 miles from home at Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington. I had a scholarship, which was the only way I could go to IWU. It would have been too expensive otherwise. I didn’t get the scholarship based on great grades. I got it because I tested well on the ACT test. So, I arrived at Wesleyan with bad study habits, received bad grades and lost my scholarship in two years. Out of a scholarship meant out of college. I worked for an insurance company for a little while, moved to Chicago for a little while, and then moved back to Bloomington. By June of 1965, I was living in a one-room apartment on Front Street and selling men’s clothing at Livingston's, a local department store. I was ready for a serious move.

My friend Steve, who I had met at Wesleyan and who had much better study habits than I, had just graduated and was going back home to Washington, DC. So when his friends, Milton and Bucky, showed up in a gray and white 56 Olds to take Steve home, I crammed a few possessions in the car with them and went off to the Nation’s Capital.

Steve asked his mother, if I could stay with them for a while. She said yes. I moved in with Mrs. Butler, her husband Tom, Steve and his two brothers, Carroll and Jerry. They lived in a little duplex on 46th place NE just across the street from the Shrimp Boat on East Capital Street. That Monday, I found a job selling men’s clothing at the Hecht Company, a local department store. I called home and asked my dad to clean out my apartment. Then I called my Bloomington boss and told him I was quitting. I stayed with the Butlers for about five months before moving to a one-room apartment on Adams Mill Road in Northwest DC.

That’s how I ran away from home forty-five year ago this week.

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