In the summer of 1969, I received a letter from the editors of Nexus, the Hofstra University yearbook, inviting me to come by their office if I was interested in joining the staff when I started my freshman year in September. It was a form letter, sent to all incoming students who had listed "yearbook" as one of their high school activities, but I decided I should get involved with some activities and this seemed an easy choice.
My first couple of visits to the yearbook office in the Student Center were disappointing. The office was dark and the door was locked. Despite the letter saying that they were actively recruiting new staff members, there did not seem to be any indication that this was the case.
Late one morning of the second week, I had to pay a visit to the bookstore between classes and decided to give it one more try. To my surprise, I did find someone in the office, one of the section editors. She told me that Joe and Arnie, the editors-in-chief of Nexus 1970, were indeed in need of staff members and would be glad to have me on the staff.
She asked what I had done on my high school yearbook; I told her I had handled the senior section and the sports section. Her eyes lit up at the mention of the latter. "We definitely need someone for sports," she said. She told me she would leave my name and that I should stop back that afternoon, when Joe and Arnie would be there.
I figured that, as a freshman staff member, I would probably have to sort through photos, track down scores or correct spellings of players' names, and maybe get to lay out a couple of pages. Imagine my surprise when I came back that afternoon and Arnie told me that I would be the editor of the sports section!
I asked about my duties. Would I have to schedule photographers to go to various games? No, the photo editor (who, it turned out, was Arnie) would do that. Did I have to go to all the games? Only if I wanted to. Would I have to track down the stats? No, the Athletic Department sent them over regularly.
I also asked about staff meetings and he said that there would not be too many, but the individual section co-editors did meet from time to time. When I asked who my co-editor was Arnie told me that he was working on it and he would let me know.
Over the next few weeks, I would stop by the office after classes. It was usually empty, but the door was unlocked, so I was able to go in and check my mailbox. Like the office, however, it too was frequently empty.
Then one day, I found a note that my co-editor, Larry, wanted to meet. He was a resident student rather than a commuter like I was, so he left his dorm phone number. I used the office phone to call and got no answer. I left a note in his mailbox with my number and told him to try me in the evenings (except Mondays and Fridays, when I would be working).
I think it was three weeks later that we finally caught up with each other. He called my home a couple of times when I was out. I called his dorm and got his roommate. As it turned out, I was in the Nexus office leaving him a note when he walked in, planning on leaving one for me. We talked for a few minutes, set up a time to meet the following week, and went our separate ways.
There was not much interaction among the Nexus staff members that year. I don't recall that there was ever a meeting of the entire group and there were some editors I don't think I ever met. Arnie was the only one I ever regularly saw in the office; Joe was doing an internship and became something of an absentee editor.
Larry and I would occasionally run into one another on campus. We would talk about the success or failure of one Hofstra team or another -- the football team was 0-10 that year -- and end with, "We should get together and lay out some pages soon."
As it turned out, we did not sit down and work on the book at all until almost the end of the spring semester. By that point, we had envelopes full of photos for each of the sports, sets of stats and rosters, and a lot of pages to fill.
And that was all we had. As some of you may remember, 1970 was the year of Vietnam War protests and the Kent State shootings and so Hofstra, like many other colleges, ended its school year early. As a result, there were few staff members and fewer students on campus as Larry and I put the sports section together, leaving us with almost no resources to fill the gaps.
We relied on back issues of the Hofstra Chronicle for specifics about games. There wasn't much in the way of positive commentary about the winless football team and none of the other teams had particularly stellar seasons either. Larry and I were reduced to trying to write clever captions for the photos. Our favorites were those where we came up with an interesting adjective for a player. So we had a "bespectacled slugger" on the baseball team and a "mustachioed veteran" on the football team.
We were almost done with the section when we realized we had no photos of the tennis team. Not a single one! And none had appeared in the Chronicle either, so we couldn't even swipe one of theirs. "We'll have to fake it," Larry said.
And so we did. The "Hofstra tennis player" shown in the book is me, in a photo taken by Arnie at the Elmont High School tennis court. No one ever questioned it. For the actual members of the tennis team who may have looked at it and wondered, "Who the heck is this guy?" -- now you know.
Virtually the entire staff of Nexus 1970 was made up of seniors. In fact, when I visited the office shortly before the Fall '70 semester began, Arnie advised me that he and I were the only returning staff members. As such, I was the only candidate for co-editor-in-chief... which will be the subject of an upcoming installment.