Worst College Blind Date

Duke Chapel with courtyard

(Duke University Chapel, Durham North Carolina)

Soon the Betas invited me to an awards banquet at Chapel Hill on the University of North Carolina campus. I had returned to the freshmen baseball team and was back in center field. One of the Betas named Jay Murphy, an athletic junior and outstanding student, took a liking to me and showed up at my dorm. “Dan, I’m going to fix you up with a pretty freshman so you can know more about Duke Beta Theta Pi.”

“That conflicts with my last baseball game against North Carolina, which ends about a half hour after the banquet begins.”

“No problem, I’ll drive her to the dinner and you can meet her after the game.”

“Sounds like a plan. Give me the directions and I’ll meet you soon as I can.”

“Here’s the flyer giving the address and a map.”

“See you there. Jay. Thanks.” I took my blue suit with thin silver stripes, light blue tie, and white dress shirt to the game on a hanger in a suit bag with my black dress shoes, tee shirt. I took the Duke bus and walked with the team to the freshmen baseball field where I placed my suit bag in the dugout. We were assigned a practice field as the Varsity was playing on the North Carolina Field. Our team came out on all cylinders and routed North Carolina 10-0. After the game I replaced my cleats with dress shoes and walked from the field to the Beta dinner party. University of North Carolina had no showers for us as the bus was scheduled to return to Duke for our showers and lockers to change our clothes. I walked across the campus at Chapel Hill in my uniform expecting the Tar Heel students to razz me but they were courteous and gave me directions to the dinner at the Faculty Lounge. I arrived late.

The colonial white building with a steeple was capable of seating over a hundred guests. I knocked on the imposing double door and was greeted by a Beta in a formal dark suit. He recognized me and whispered, “Good, Dan. You finally made it. Your seat is to the right in the middle where your date is waiting. Hurry and join us.” I glanced around and saw the brothers, pledges, and guests seated during an award ceremony honoring Beta accomplishments for the year.

“Where is the bathroom?” I asked.

“Just to your right past that wall before the hallway” as he pointed. My date must have noticed a baseball player in a dirty uniform had arrived late—her escort! She had to know I could not have showered since there wasn’t a shower in the front bathroom. Quickly making my way to the bathroom and hearing a few chuckles from the crowd, I disappeared behind the wall separating the Faculty Lounge from the bathrooms and closet area. Washing the sweat and dust off my hands and face in the sink, I dressed in my suit, stuffed my uniform into my suit bag, along with my cleats, glove, and sliding pads, socks, jersey, and jock. Placing my clothes bag on a hook in the hallway, and wondering how I would survive this awkward entrance at a formal fraternity function, I entered the dining room.

Everyone seated had begun eating as I walked up to the dinner table. Jay, a tall, very handsome, dark-haired athlete on the Varsity swimming team with a magnetic personality, came by in his dark blue suit and showed me to my seat. I felt self-conscious in front of an empty plate next to my date. He introduced me to an obviously upset, but attractive debutante. However, she appeared cold as ice in her conservative formal black dress, white gloves, and shiny black high heels, smirking face, and a superior disinterested attitude. Her bouffant pushed her dark brown hair toward the ceiling in the direction of her raised nose. “Hello, my name is Dan Lavery. Sorry to be late but just finished playing a baseball game and got here as soon as I could.”

She did not look at me until she completed chewing her food and muttered, “Oh, someone mentioned it.” As she finished the reply she threw her other white gloved hand in the air in a manner that said my explanation was unnecessary. Another trait of this "Duke Bad Blind Date" syndrome.

I swallowed my pride and tried to break the iceberg floating at me, “I’m from sunny California. Where did you go to high school?”


“Have you decided your major yet?”

After an awkward silence while she put another piece of steak in her mouth and chewed, she replied, “No.” Her eyes never left her plate as she kept munching. Being focused on herself she now had fit most of the “worst date” requirements.

“I came here thinking I would be in the N.R.O.T.C. but changed my mind at the end of football practice.”

After another silence I said, “Have you gone to any other Beta functions?"

As she slowly and silently arose and left her chair looking away from the table with her nose in the air, she said, “I need to freshen up” ignoring my attempt to communicate.

I started in on the filet mignon, baked potatoes, and green beans, while sipping iced tea as I had not eaten since breakfast. When she returned, I arose, pulled her chair out for her, and carefully pushed it back. She remained silent while returning to the food.

Jay sauntered up, put his arm around my shoulder, “Did you win the game?”

“Yeah. Ten to nothing!”

“How did you do?”

“I made a few good catches, got a single, a walk, scored two runs, and an RBI.”

“Way to go. You’re going to be a star on the Varsity next year everybody says.”

“I hope so. I can’t wait ‘till Varsity tryouts.”

Jay stood there for a moment having tried to stimulate some interest in the mummy next to me. He winked at me with a smile and whispered a sigh. He whirled and returned to his seat in his rhythmic well-coordinated gait. She, of course, was oblivious in her own world.

The awards handed to fraternity members were to impress the prospective fraternity pledges and their dates. They mentioned the humanitarian and intellectual activities of prominent Duke Betas. The elegant function broke up about an hour later. My disinterested date turned to me. “Will you have Jay take me home now?”

“I’ll get him and be right back.”

Walking briskly around the large U shaped table arrangement to Jay, I said, “My date wants to get back to her dorm.”

“I’ll get the car with my date and be waiting for you outside in five.” Jay drove us back to Durham in his late sporty blue Pontiac and dropped her off with his date at the women’s campus.

I walked my date to the door of her East College freshman dorm while Jay took his date across the street to her upper class dormitory. “I hope you enjoyed the dinner,” I said trying to at least meet her eyes, but she was not in the mood to be human.

“Goodbye,” she said and disappeared into the womb of her dorm away from any threat from the outside world. I hustled back to Jay’s car, jumped into shotgun, and closed the door. Jay returned with a smile on his face.

“How did you like your date?”

“Are you kidding? She was so wrapped up in herself, she never made an attempt to know anything about me! She lacked the basic curiosity to communicate and showed her lack of experience and narrow-mindedness. A classic bad blind date.”

“She was a good-looking gal. You know the joke about Duke Coeds-they are either brilliant and ugly, or pretty and conceited-there’s no in-between.”

“I’m beginning to believe that. She may have had a bad day, but her beauty was not enough to hide her shallow side. I don’t know why, but it seems that I have never had a good blind date in my life.”

Duke University Campus 1958        

(Duke University campus)

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Billy Mitchell Jazz Pianist at the Sepulveda Universalist Unitarian Society

The Sunday Service of the Sepulveda Unitarian Universalist Society at the “Onion” June 21, 2015,  was marvelous. Billy Mitchell, a Black jazz pianist born in Buffalo, N.Y., spoke on his perceptions having grown up as the only Black in all his schools until his father, a Baptist minister, sent him to Atlanta, Ga. at 16 to grow up and find out first-hand about the "other" America out there. Billy refused to agree that it is all about race when people discriminated against him or others. His first experiences he would ask to be served a meal, or a drink at an all-white establishment. They would ignore him. He kept asking for a meal. He tried to make personal contact but noticed they would not look at him. Eventually, after he persisted asking for a meal the waitress served him one that was full of salt inside! Despite such experiences and his active civil rights life working with Stokely Carmichael, the horrendous shooting to death of 9 Blacks at the Charleston Church and years of other outrages directed at the Black community, he has a very positive attitude. He maintains it is all about perception and explained his optimism by first playing "Wonderful World" so beautifully to a standing ovation. He said that he is a student of history and that knowledge shows to him we have more people in our world now than ever who are trying to make a positive change for the better. "Oh yeah, there are so many bad incidents, it is awful, but is getting better. When you remember where we were in history not long ago. Slavery, The Civil War, World War I and II, and segregation. So much more hatred and killing have preceded where we are today. So don't let anyone get you down." He lamented the lack of music for our children in kindergarten, middle, elementary, and high schools where in the past our governments had music programs. He said that is a dismal development that he is addressing by funding scholarships. His website is www.billy-mitchell.com. He sponsors a Preparatory Academy at www.soppa.net. He will hold a concert in Pasadena July 5 and hopes many will come for an enjoyable afternoon.

Peace, Love, and Joy,

Daniel C. Lavery


Billy Mitchell.jpg

Billy Mitchell

Sepulveda Unitarian Universalist Society Onion        

The "Onion"

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Crispus Attucks poem by John Boyle O’Reilly

 Crispus Attucks.jpg

in Crispus Attucks Legacy and Historical Landmarks

John Boyle O’Reilly (1844-1890) was an Irish-born poet who wrote the poem Crispus Attucks.


WHERE shall we seek for a hero, and where shall we find a story? Our laurels are wreathed for conquest, our songs for completed glory. But we honor a shrine unfinished, a column uncapped with pride, If we sing the deed that was sown like seed when Crispus Attucks died.

Shall we take for a sign this Negro-slave with unfamiliar name— With his poor companions, nameless too, till their lives leaped forth in flame? Yea, sorely, the verdict is not for us, to render or deny; We can only interpret the symbol; God chose these men to die— As teachers and types, that to humble lives may chief award be made; That from lowly ones, and rejected stones, the temple’s base is laid!

When the bullets leaped from the British guns, no chance decreed their aim: Men see what the royal hirelings saw—a multitude and a flame; But beyond the flame, a mystery; five dying men in the street, While the streams of severed races in the well of a nation meet!

O, blood of the people! changeless tide, through century, creed and race! Still one as the sweet salt sea is one, though tempered by sun and place; The same in the ocean currents, and the same in the sheltered seas; Forever the fountain of common hopes and kindly sympathies; Indian and Negro, Saxon and Celt, Teuton and Latin and Gaul— Mere surface shadow and sunshine; while the sounding unifies all! One love, one hope, one duty theirs! No matter the time or ken, There never was separate heart-beat in all the races of men!

But alien is one—of class, not race—he has drawn the line for himself; His roots drink life from inhuman soil, from garbage of pomp and pelf; His heart beats not with the common beat, he has changed his life-stream’s hue; He deems his flesh to be finer flesh, he boasts that his blood is blue: Patrician, aristocrat, tory—whatever his age or name, To the people’s rights and liberties, a traitor ever the same. The natural crowd is a mob to him, their prayer a vulgar rhyme; The freeman’s speech is sedition, and the patriot’s deed a crime. Wherever the race, the law, the land,—whatever the time, or throne, The tory is always a traitor to every class but his own.

Thank God for a land where pride is clipped, where arrogance stalks apart; Where law and song and loathing of wrong are words of the common heart; Where the masses honor straightforward strength, and know, when veins are bled, That the bluest blood is putrid blood—that the people’s blood is red!

And honor to Crispus Attucks, who was leader and voice that day; The first to defy, and the first to die, with Maverick. Carr, and Gray. Call it riot or revolution, his hand first clenched at the crown; His feet were the first in perilous place to pull the king’s flag down; His breast was the first one rent apart that liberty’s stream might flow; For our freedom now and forever, his head was the first bid low.

Call it riot or revolution, or mob or crowd, as you may, Such deaths have been seed of nations, such lives shall be honored for aye. They were lawless hinds to the lackeys—but martyrs to Paul Revere; And Otis and Hancock and Warren read spirit and meaning clear. Ye teachers, answer: what shall be done when just men stand in the dock; When the caitiff is robed in ermine, and his sworders keep the lock; When torture is robbed of clemency, and guilt is without remorse; When tiger and panther are gentler than the Christian slaver’s curse; When law is a satrap’s menace, and order the drill of a horde— Shall the people kneel to be trampled, and bare their neck to the sword?

Not so! by this Stone of Resistance that Boston raises here! By the old North Church’s lantern, and the watching of Paul Revere! Not so! by Paris of ‘Ninety-Three, and Ulster of ‘NinetyEight! By Toussaint in St. Domingo! by the horror of Delhi’s gate! By Adams’s word to Hutchinson! by the tea that is brewing still! By the farmers that met the soldiers at Concord and Bunker Hill!

Not so! not so! Till the world is done, the shadow of wrong is dread; The crowd that bends to a lord to-day, to-morrow shall strike him dead. There is only one thing changeless: the earth steals from under our feet, The times and manners are passing moods, and the laws are incomplete; There is only one thing changes not, one word that still survives— The slave is the wretch who wields the lash, and not the man in gyves!

There is only one test of contract: is it willing, is it good? There is only one guard of equal right: the unity of blood; There is never a mind unchained and true that class or race allows; There is never a law to be obeyed that reason disavows; There is never a legal sin but grows to the law’s disaster, The master shall dropp the whip, and the slave shall enslave the master!

O, Planter of seed in thought and deed has the year of right revolved, And brought the Negro patriot’s cause with its problem to be solved? His blood streamed first for the building, and through all the century’s years, Our growth of story and fame of glory are mixed with his blood and tears. He lived with men like a soul condemned—derided, defamed, and mute; Debased to the brutal level, and instructed to be a brute. His virtue was shorn of benefit, his industry of reward; His love!—O men, it were mercy to have cut affection’s cord; Through the night of his woe, no pity save that of his fellow-slave; For the wage of his priceless labor, the scourging block and the grave!

And now, is the tree to blossom? Is the bowl of agony filled? Shall the price be paid, and the honor said, and the word of outrage stilled? And we who have toiled for freedom’s law, have we sought for freedom’s soul? Have we learned at last that human right is not a part but the whole? That nothing is told while the clinging sin remains part unconfessed? That the health of the nation is periled if one man be oppressed?

Has he learned—the slave from the rice-swamps, whose children were sold—has he, With broken chains on his limbs, and the cry in his blood, ‘I am free!’ Has he learned through affliction’s teaching what our Crispus Attucks knew— When Right is stricken, the white and black are counted as one, not two? Has he learned that his century of grief was worth a thousand years In blending his life and blood with ours, and that all his toils and tears Were heaped and poured on him suddenly, to give him a right to stand From the gloom of African forests, in the blaze of the freest land? That his hundred years have earned for him a place in the human van Which others have fought for and thought for since the world of wrong began?

For this, shall his vengeance change to love, and his retribution burn, Defending the right, the weak and the poor, when each shall have his turn; For this, shall he set his woeful past afloat on the stream of night; For this, he forgets as we all forget when darkness turns to light; For this, he forgives as we all forgive when wrong has changed to right.

And so, must we come to the learning of Boston’s lesson to-day; The moral that Crispus Attucks taught in the old heroic way; God made mankind to be one in blood, as one in spirit and thought; And so great a boon, by a brave man’s death, is never dearly bought!

John Boyle O’Reilly

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How Did I Feel When I Met the Love of My Life

After finishing my Navy obligation I decided to take some courses at Cal State Long Beach in Literature, history, film, and poetry to round off Naval Academy engineering degree while searching for my life's path. On the day before I was heading for law school in San Francisco a friend from the cafeteria named Hal said, “Dan, I know an attractive student here for the summer I want you to meet.”

“I’ve never had a blind date that was worthwhile. I have always regretted agreeing to one. I’m about to leave for Law School tomorrow to go to Berkeley.”

Hal was undeterred and continued, “But Dan, she’s a dancer.” I knew I would not turn down such an opportunity from what I knew of the dancers. “I know you’ll like her. We can do a double date  this evening around six.” He gave me the address of a dancer named Joan. I went there and Hal was waiting in a second story apartment Joan rented with friends.  I heard her footsteps as she ascended the stairs to her apartment. It was beautiful and vivacious Joan Fowles from Oak Park, Illinois. Immediately I knew this was going to be interesting.

She had dark shimmering hair, a smile that showed an inner glow, and a face and body to die for. I was trembling with excitement for my luck. After introductions I said, “Let’s go to my apartment.” I took her to my Corvette, opened the door, put down the top, and sped off with my dancer!

After showing Hal, Courtney, and Joan my best photographic slides of sunsets, surf, mountains, and nature in all its splendor, while listening to Bach and Beethoven on my stereo and professional tape recorder, we went out for dinner. Afterwards we danced to rock music, and Hal and Courtney eventually left. We continued dancing and I couldn’t resist my attraction to her. “I’m so glad I met you and you came to my apartment. When is your birthday?”

“January 19.”

I was astounded as I blurted out, “My birthday is January 18!” I was fastened on her eyes, “Where were you born?”

“Oak Park, Illinois.”

“What a coincidence, I was born in Morgan Park only a few miles away!” I approached her and  looked deep and long into her eyes as we hugged and kissed. Was this the woman I had been searching for all my life?  I knew from my heart we communicated in a way that time stood still while we experienced a communion of two souls colliding together by mysterious forces. We spoke the universal language of love, yet we had only just met. I have heard that there are no coincidences and that such encounters were meant to occur if you are wise enough to listen to your heart and that voice deep inside you that knows truth, beauty, and love when it appears. It was the most exciting experience to ever happen to me as I realized there was no past or future to worry about, just the present.

In the short time I had encountered her I trusted her completely. Like the flow of a river I was riding on that was pushing us together, I asked her, “How would you like to see the Golden Gate Bridge tomorrow with me?

She looked into my eyes with that smile, “Yes! I would love to see the Golden Gate Bridge with you.” We had touched our hearts in a way that was permanent. All the wasted time I had spent chasing for an elusive relationship with women who were attractive and intelligent, never had the electricity and magnetism I experienced with Joan. I was riding on a much needed wave of excitement. Wanting to spend the rest of my life with her, I could see my search for happiness had found a person who would be a magnificent wife and a caring mother of any children we might have.

I knew “This is the woman I want to share my dreams with and love.” I had tapped into some reservoir deep within me that awakened me to the possibilities of our future. I returned to the moment and spent hours getting to know her and shared some of my past experiences and dreams for the future. We drove to San Francisco, entered my apartment in Berkeley, and never turned back. We are now the proud parents of three adult children who have found their paths in medicine, producing green products, and music.


You Got Lucky When You Met Joan

A romantic encounter so intense

When I saw her I almost lost my sense

Up the stairs to meet me for a blind date

Was our collision meant to be by fate?

The stars and planets were aligned just right

When we were brought within each other’s sight

Graceful lovely dancer I chanced to meet

Hal gave me an invitation so sweet

Thought it a waste of time looking forlorn

I was leaving for law school the next morn

This was my last night at Cal State Long Beach

A fine woman was surely out of reach

All past blind dates from many a good friend

Apologized when it was a dead end

Now was different and to my surprise

When strange forces were summoned to arise

Placed this ravishing damsel before me

Annapolis man who returned from sea

After eight years with resigned commission

Had a fateful and joyful collision

Shimmering hair, sense of humor, smart too

Love of reading, children, and heart so true

Made me feel good, liked my photos and slides

She had the best qualities life provides

Lucky she finished a session of dance

Tomorrow I‘d leave it was my last chance

To learn if this could possibly be

The person who would share her life with me

Talk seemed natural she set me at ease

Somehow confident and knew how to please

Not so awkward when time was so fleeting

All went so smoothly from the first greeting

Just twenty one from Oak Park Illinois

Me from Morgan Park nine pound baby boy

But our birthdays were just a day a part

Our meeting built momentum from the start

We loved music, nature, and having fun

Both left Midwest for California sun

Her very warm smile grabbed me right away

When I hugged and kissed her that fateful day

Could angels have planned our love all along?

Thinking of it makes my heart sing a song

“You got lucky” when you met lovely Joan

She joined your life when you were all alone

“How would you like to see the Golden Gate?

And live with me before it is too late.”

She smiled at me to my impulsive plan

My heart skipped a beat when she said “Yes, Dan”

Off to Frisco we sped in my Stingray

I am grateful for that glorious day

At seventy two and she sixty-four

Parents of three miracles and what’s more

Three grandchildren and one more on the way

Thankful for the blessings of every day

We’re in love no matter what the day brings

When I think of her that day my soul sings


Daniel C. Lavery