“Confessions of a Townie”

By Bruce D. Grossman

Like many of my aging classmates, increasingly, I find myself reminiscing about the past. Recently, I found myself confronting childhood memories of growing up as a resident of New Haven. I was born in New Haven hospital before it was “Yale-New Haven.” I admit that I took for granted the many benefits I enjoyed by virtue of our Yale neighbors. At that time Winchester Repeating Arms was the city’s major employer. Yet, thanks to Yale, I grew up with access to the Peabody Museum of Natural History, live theater, the New Haven Symphony Orchestra, a major art gallery and other cultural benefits, all of which did not exist in other New England “factory” towns.

I was educated in New Haven’s public schools where faculty often included members of the “Yale family.” I had heard New Haven residents complaining about Yale’s influence and privilege, but as a high school student at Hillhouse High, I not only rooted for Yale’s football team but also earned my spending money selling souvenirs and dollars at the Bowl on fall Saturdays.

However, by the time I had reached my junior year at Hillhouse, I found myself beginning to join other locals who resented Yale’s presence in our town. No doubt I was jealous of the young men who dashed across Elm and Chapel streets and other major local thoroughfares that bisected the Yale Campus. I assumed that those apparently carefree fellows were all rich, but most of all I resented the fact that the prettiest of our female classmates, especially the seniors, were being “stolen” by the “Yalies.” In fact, in my senior year as the news editor of our school paper, I made a point of criticizing those “privileged” Yale men.

Thus it was ironic that I was accepted to Yale with a full tuition scholarship. As a Yale freshman I was concerned about competing academically my private school classmates but I am pleased to report that I soon integrated into the Yale community, without apparent prejudice, so now I want to thank the faculty and fellow students, and especially roommates, who assisted in preparing me for a wonderful life’s journey.