The reading material provided in the bathroom of my childhood home rotated as different issues of Reader’s Digest arrived.
The reading material OUTSIDE the bathroom door (and, with eight of us in the house growing up, there was indeed wait time) stayed the same for fifty-one years!
Despite repeated studying (and sounding out), I can’t quite quote the entire text done in an old-fashioned, elegant script hanging in that bedroom hall behind the glass of a not-quite-big-enough frame–black. What I do recall is that there were no abbreviations: “Doctor of Philosophy” (size also being important) and the year, that could have been written with a few numerals, was instead “the year of our Lord one thousand nine hundred fifty.”
Seems said distinctive date was preceded by a smaller spelled-out number, the year of the university. Peculiar to contemplate the parallel drawn–and oft-digested–between the birth of an institution in another state I have yet to visit and the reckoning event of our Christian calendar. Or that certified intelligence would somehow outlast mid-twentieth century modes of keeping track of days. Would those in the future–presented with the document–need more than one point of reference to determine which dispensation of truth the bearer (or his students) can attest?
I’m describing the formal record on sheepskin (or not) of a seminal cusp in family history, Dad’s Ph.D. There it remained on display for only family and invited visitors to the bathroom. I grew up assuming Dad had eschewed the ostentation of hanging it appropriately matted in his office on campus. In later years I decided he and Mom must have developed the philosophy that the students they sought most to inspire were also being fed and clothed under their roof. Requiring no extra effort on their part, it was a continual Socrates-to-Plato-type object lesson: “When you desire knowledge as much as you want to _______ .” The diploma’s placement gave them the most bang for their buck.
Of their four male offspring programmed for doctor status, I was the last to select a discipline. Much like a prodigal, I’d spent eight years abroad in the land squandering my Bachelor of Arts inheritance before making a resolute foray into graduate school. During a rigorous four-year program, I ate at the trough of higher learning but, alas, my professional certification–recognized throughout the country–added the letters MArch, Master of Architecture, behind my name. On graduation day, I held up my diploma and Mother (who, with Dad, were honored guests) intoned, “I wish it were a doctorate.”
Today I think about how much terminal degrees meant to her and how much what she said still means to me. I never framed that diploma. I protected it in the pages of a book I can’t find right now. I’d like to. I’d like to put it in an elegant little frame I found, reduced down. I have a place for it on one of two narrow slices of wall between my bedroom door and closet. With an arrangement I call “Self Portrait” and it’s basically just for me to see.
Reflected in the mirror from my parent’s blonde dresser (set on its edge with special hardware), right-angle walls hold pictures of me made for various purposes. One is an illustration on a birthday card my sister sent when I turned thirty–a guy’s back that happened to look a lot like mine. The top frame right column holds a credit card-sized version of my BA diploma that the alumni association sent years ago (I don’t think I sent them any money). I finally decided the memento would be perfect to frame. Now I need to find my MArch.
The mirror is mounted on the back of the bedroom door. With its relationship to the walk-in closet, I’ve got myself a little dressing room–the subject of another post perhaps . . . .
Find what’s yours . . . truly, danscir52
copyright 2013 Dan Christensen all rights reserved