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Perhaps it was always just a place in time but, for me, it was the reality of my youth. Its boundaries were Harvard Square to the east, my home on Coolidge Hill with Mount Auburn Cemetery and Cambridge Cemetery to the north, two schools — Shady Hill and Browne & Nichols — to the west, and the Charles River to my south, but all of this was lived in the shadow of Harvard University during the Kennedy years and later the Vietnam War.

I was all in. I was a townie from birth. The athletes on the football and hockey teams were my rock stars, and the professors would take time off from the university to advise United States presidents who were graduates.

If you were fortunate to be admitted, I believed you were blessed for life and, starting with your freshman year, you would be offered an education unequaled anywhere else in the world.

It took me several expulsions, numerous worthless summer schools with worthless speed reading classes if you were a dyslexic, a condition that, for me, went diagnosed for years. All in all, it six years but I finally got through high school.

Anyway, I was determined to get into Harvard.

The Cambridge School of Weston, a progressive school in the suburbs of Boston, took me in but required that I repeat 11th grade and start working with Mr. Johnson, a trained reading teacher, who convinced me to finally take an IQ test and start fresh with the alphabet. When I asked, he smiled and he told me, “Yes, you can go to college.”

I immediately packed up my report cards and went to The Harvard admissions office, where I announced that my problems would soon be solved and I would be going to Harvard. I met with one of the admissions officers, Deke Smith, who went over my report cards, then looked up at me inquisitively and said, “You have never gotten anything better than a C+.” I was ready for him, and responded, “Well, they take 20 points off for spelling.”

He gently said that I would have to be president of my school, president of the literary magazine, as well as president of the New England Student Government Association, which encompasses all New England prep schools and their student governments. In hindsight, I’m pretty sure I was being offered the door, but I didn’t know that.

My senior year I went back to Mr. Smith and informed him that I had accomplished those three goals, and he looked at me sort of long and hard and apologized. “I did not mean to lead you on, but all we do here is read books and write papers. I don’t think you could survive.”

I applied anyway and was rejected.

I went off to a wonderful school in Ohio, left the campus dorms, rented an apartment in the town and went underground. In September of 1970, I was in a high-speed motorcycle crash, which killed the driver, my friend. I spent the next several months hanging from the ceiling in a pelvic sling in several hospitals until I ended up back in Boston and Cambridge, where I started to move again in wheelchairs and on crutches.

I had a moment of genius.

I went back to Mr. Smith at the admissions office and told him that I would not be able to go back to school that spring and hoped he would let me be a “special student” at Harvard so I could take one class and get credit for it when I returned to Ohio the next year.

He was shocked to see me again but remembered me. He recollected that I had surprised him the last time we met when I had accomplished all of his goals, including being president of the New England Student Government Association when, the year before, the Cambridge School of Weston was not even been a member. He reiterated also that I might survive with one class because, as he had said, “All we do here is read books and write papers.”

I got my student ID and realized I was inside the walls and I was living my plan.

I signed up for five classes, not just one, and told my mother that I would do all the research because I had nothing better to do than go to the library on crutches, but I asked her would she type my papers to avoid the spelling issues. She laughed and agreed and I went to work.

I did nothing but work and sleep and go to class and work for that entire spring semester. My one fear was the Blue Book hourly exams where I would have to write out my answers and reveal my spelling issues. I expected I would lose 20 points for spelling. When I got the Blue Book back, there were red marks all the way through it. But about two-thirds of the way in they stopped and at the very end, in red pen, was “You know your stuff but your spelling is atrocious. A-.”

I didn’t stop celebrating for a week.

After I got my report card, I went back to Mr. Smith and showed him I had gotten all A’s and B’s except for one C+, which then put me at least in the middle of the class.

He looked like a guy who just had his pants pulled down. I told him that I would be applying as a transfer student for admission the next year, then smiled at him and left.

He was defenseless.

Several months later, I got the fat envelope. I proudly walked into my parents’ bedroom as my father was reading in the late afternoon on the bed, and I told him I just got into Harvard. He smiled and offered congratulations then went back to reading. It was not his ambition, it was mine. I went to the kitchen to tell my mother and we, in fact, celebrated.

In 1973, I graduated with honors. Fifty years later at our 50th reunion, I met classmates who I had never met before and, only then, felt that I finally fit in, even though I did not qualify for admission. I thought I had justified my acceptance and graduation because I had loved that education so much!

That school gave me a chance that others wouldn’t. That school looked deeper into me than all the other schools, other than the Cambridge School of Weston, ever had. I felt for the first time I was one of them and worthy to be one of their classmates.

I live in Maryland now, as I have for years, but I really am very much still that Cambridge townie. Only weeks ago, when we were at Oriole spring training together, my son looked at me very seriously and asked, “Are you actually a closet Red Sox fan?“