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The Question

March 2023
1min read

When I was a senior in high school in 1939, I was engaged in a fierce competition with a boy named Irving to become editor of the school newspaper. Much to my dismay, the paper’s adviser named us co-editors. I marched into the teacher’s office and pleaded that I needed every honor possible to help me win a hundred-dollar scholarship to Brown University. My father had saved a hundred dollars and could borrow another hundred, and I planned to earn one hundred more, but a scholarship was my only hope of raising the full four-hundred-dollar annual tuition.

I argued that I was graduating in January and Irving was not graduating until June, so he could become editor after me. The adviser finally agreed, and I was the sole editor for six months.

The most exciting event of my editorship was the visit to Providence by the flamboyant and popular mayor of New York City, Fiorello La Guardia. I was all ready with a question: “Mr. Mayor, to what do you attribute your success?” The mayor gave me a searing look of scorn and replied, as politely as he could, that mine was a stupid question. I don’t remember Irving’s question, but I know that it was a good one, and I was too embarrassed to say another word.

Irving and I both went to Brown with scholarships. He became Irving R. Levine, the noted foreign correspondent and television economics commentator. I became, well, me.

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