By Les Plosia
If The New School is anything like it used to be, count me a big fan.
Then in my upper 20s, I would tool south in my MG convertible on the West Side Highway two evenings a week from my junior editing job at Prentice-Hall publishing house on the New Jersey side of the George Washington Bridge down to West 12th Street to sample the night school treasures of The New School for Social Research. Most students were adults, a diaspora of striking ethnicities and wannabe believers.
There I found a faculty infused with an apple-kissed joy and enthusiasm not otherwise to be found, except from class leaders whose sleeves were still rolled up from day jobs.
• There was Mark Sherwin, copy editor at the NY Post, a salty, ink-stained cynic clipping off outrageous nostrums from which he might shape lively slugs or outrageous headlines.
• Or Pulitzer Prize winning poet Stan Kunitz who once openly delighted by describing in front of class my essay on a cursing, sweating Polish carpenter as “writing as good as anything you will find in American literature today.”
• Or blonde Brit Selwyn James, who taught the only type of suspended interest reads the then immensely popular Reader’s Digest would accept if one wanted to sell an article at an eye-popping $1500 (a king’s ransom in 1958).
• Or a handsome woman named Hilda who as boss at Penguin Books privately gave me an assignment to research D.H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover whose status as a banned book would in 1960 be overturned, paving the way for Penguin to sell three million copies.
The 12-course Public Relations program on the GI Bill segued over the years into a career as a PR man and journalist for the Herald News, a 90,000 circulation daily where as a big fish in a small pond I became first a reporter at city hall, then state house, federal courthouse and, finally, a Sunday columnist.
I was also scribe for my brother James Plosia’s 30-year tenure as mayor of our hometown of East Rutherford, NJ, which has a perfectly nice view of the New York skyline. I also engineered as strategist and public relations lead an upset election of a congressman four years after graduating The New School.
I credit The New School with my modest successes far more than four sleepy years of undergrad studies at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ.
The West Village roots of my Irish maternal grandparents has always been close to my heart. So too are my memories of The New School.
Les Plosia was a career journalist and is author of JFK: Satyr, Sinner, Saint?