A Love Story
Timothy James Bazzett
That Reed City Boy is back! Fresh out of the army in the fall of ‘65, Tim Bazzett feels like he has fallen behind his former friends from high school, many of whom are already married and working, or nearly finished with college. Older than most of his fellow freshmen at Ferris State, Tim feels out of step and flounders about trying to find his proper place as he immerses himself in a work-study routine which only leaves him more isolated and lonely. Then, in his sophomore year, he joins the Ferris Vet’s Club and re-enters that world of rough camaraderie of the shared military experience. Tim’s social life improves, but his grades slide, until he meets the girl, and starts straightening out his act and turning his life around.
The Ferris State campus and the sixties from a small-town perspective are vividly evoked throughout this alternately hilarious and poignant narrative. Sex, booze, rock and roll, and spring break on the Florida beaches – it’s all here, along with first cars, making new friends, scrub crew shenanigans, grassers and the excitement of first kisses and coppin’ that first feel. An eloquent and irreverent paean to the joys and uncertainties of lookin’ for love – and finding it – Pinhead will take you back to a simpler and more innocent time of life. So dig out your favorite old albums and set the needle in the groove. Pour yourself a tall cool one, kick back, open up this book and get ready to remember.
The GCG’s of Room 303 and Other Ferris Beauties
When you finally meet that special someone, you also, necessarily, begin meeting a lot of other people too, people that are special to her, both family and friends. First I started meeting Terri’s friends at Ferris.
Terri’s roommate when we began dating was a petite brunette from Plymouth named Marsha Stahl. I should probably at least try to be a bit circumspect about how I describe Marsha, but what the hell. Marsha was gorgeous, with a capital Gee! She had long lustrous dark hair she often adorned with colorful headbands and scarves. Her eyes were huge and soulful like the ones you see in those paintings of beautiful waif-like children. She was the kind of girl that just naturally caused whiplash in guys as they did double- and even triple-takes and stared when she walked by. But probably the most attractive thing about Marsha was that she seemed completely clueless and oblivious to her own beauty.
And that wasn’t all she was clueless about either. According to Terri, she was also pretty much a total innocent when it came to matters of sex – another “good Catholic girl,” naturally. I’m not sure if she stayed that way, because she was dating Larry Miller that term, a notorious Vet’s Club Lothario and ladies’ man (hey, there’s one of those great redundancies, like déjà vu all over again). It seems very likely, however, that her GCG upbringing kept her on the straight and narrow. Sorry, Larry. Join the club.
As a matter of fact, now that I think about it, all of Terri’s suite-mates were GCG’s. Well, at least they were all raised Catholic. I’ve already mentioned Marilyn LeRash, who had introduced me to Terri, and was dating Pat O’Connor. She was another very pretty girl, but very probably also a practicing GCG, so Pat was in the same club with Larry and me, no question.
The fourth girl in the suite (two double rooms which shared a common bathroom in between) was Norma Wisniewski, a Polish Catholic like Terri, who was indisputably the most interesting of Terri’s friends. Norma, at five ten, was a tall Amazonian bleached blonde with a very bawdy sense of humor and a great laugh, who wasn’t afraid to call a spade a spade (or a hoe a hoe – or should that be a ho’?). I really liked Norma (and still do). Not too long before I met her, Norma had gone under the knife for an elective rhinoplasty. I never met Norma’s real nose, but as far as I was concerned her new one was pretty much perfect, and she was really an impressive babe, with her imposing height, long shining locks, dark eyes, cynical sense of humor, and irrepressible potty-mouth. I won’t include Norma in the GCG bunch. Back home in Bay City Norma often clerked in her uncle’s drug store, where she daily dispensed such personal items as tampons, douche bags and condoms to the store’s clientele, which may have accounted for her rather matter-of-fact savoir faire regarding certain sexual matters. I strongly suspect then that she may have served as the sexual sage and mentor for that clueless gaggle of near-innocents with whom she shared the suite. She was studying commercial art at Ferris. I saw some of her work and she was a natural and talented artist.
There’s one more thing I have to share about Norma, just to illustrate her unique sense of humor. While I was researching this book, I asked Norma (and a lot of other folks) for pictures from their Ferris years. Norma was unable to find any photos, so she sent me instead this “Polish haiku” to use in lieu of a picture.
“It came to me in a mist, so to speak,” she wrote. “It enveloped me with its sheer genius of form and fit …”
farts, in the
That’s the Norma I remember. Bingo!
Terri’s first roommate at Ferris had been a girl named Marilyn Wilcox, another cos major who came from East DeWitt, down by Lansing. As Terri recalls, Marilyn was a girl who liked to party, and chafed under the strict curfew rules of the dorm, so, after the first term was over, she found a room at ground level where she could crawl through a window if she got back after the lobby doors were locked. She shared that first floor room with another cos girl, Pat Rogers, from Evart, who I think also turned up at some of the Vet’s Club parties that year.
In a room across the hall from the third floor suite Terri shared with her three Catholic roomies were two other strikingly attractive girls whom it was my good fortune to meet that term when they both started dating two other vets.
Rinda Person was a farm girl of good Swedish stock from Allegan, a natural blonde with a lush figure and a kind of luminous beauty that was such that she gave off a kind of warm glow. Like a lot of genuine blondes, her cheeks were covered with a fine down which may have actually emphasized that inner glow. Rinda started dating John Nibbelink shortly after I met Terri. John, who was a very handsome guy, in a rugged, square-jawed fashion, had not had much luck with girls up until then. He did harbor an unspoken crush on Marsha, but she was already dating Larry Miller, who was John’s roommate and one of his best friends at the time. John was much too loyal a friend and too honorable a guy to try to make time with Larry’s girl, so one night at a party, depressed and deep in his cups, he pleaded with Marsha to “please find me a nice girl, Marsh!” He may have even been lying prone on the floor, falling down drunk, when he made this earnest and heartfelt plea. Within days, Marsha had found him Rinda, and John pretty much quit any serious kind of drinking from that moment on. He was a happy man, even though on their first date, a semi-formal dance the Vets threw at Miller Auditorium in Reed City, Rinda showed up on crutches. She had sprained her ankle, but John was perfectly content to forego dancing that night and simply bask in the reflection of Rinda’s tawny golden glow.
Rinda’s roommate was Linda Querback, a tiny girl with short brown hair and large mischievous dark eyes. There was a delicate kind of elegance about Linda whose slim figure belied a wiry toughness and a streak of tomboy-ishness. She seemed a perfect match for John Cook, who began dating her that term, because John was definitely the exception to the rule of the typical vet. Around campus he could usually be found in a shirt and tie, often with a sport coat or sweater. There was something a bit more sophisticated and cosmopolitan about Cook. Perhaps that explained his instant success on the campus political scene, both within the Vet’s Club and later in the student government. I always figured John would make a natural diplomat or politician. In any case, he and Linda Q made a striking couple.
I just noticed that all the girls I’ve described thus far seem to be cute, gorgeous, beautiful and attractive. You’re probably wondering, were all the girls at Ferris such babes? Well, it often seemed that way to me, especially my first year, when I was largely on the outside looking in, and didn’t really know any of these girls. But I don’t think my memories of Ferris being chock full of beautiful girls are necessarily far off the mark, particularly when I leaf through the Ferriscope yearbooks from those years and see and remember some of the girls I admired from afar, the ones whose pictures were always plastered on posters all over campus around the time of Homecoming and other big social events. After I started dating Terri, who was a newly pledged Delta Zeta, I actually met some of those girls – girls like Laurie Coburn, a DZ sister, and Linda Hale, a Homecoming Queen who lived, I believe, in Helen Ferris too. And there was Carla Holmgren, Terri’s “big sister” in the sorority, whose exotically dark good looks belied her Scandinavian heritage. (Carla was also a Reed City girl, one I had noticed years before, in high school.) Other distant (to me) campus beauties of the era were Sue Gilbert, Rae Derrick, and Sue Hagel. Yup, there really were plenty of pretty girls around Ferris during my scant two years there. I doubt that any of these former beauty queens remember me, but I remember them – the unreachable “glamour queens” who provided the glitz to my college years.
I know, I’m digressing again, and probably in a most unacceptable manner too, daydreaming about girls from way back in the mid-twentieth century, many of whom are undoubtedly grandmothers by now. Sigh – the gorgeous Ferris girls of yesteryear. Where are they all now?
"A journal of life at Ferris State [with] great descriptions of life not only at the college, but also of that period in the history of Big Rapids, Reed City and the environs. ... This is ultimately a personal story ... And at the end of the day Bazzett tells a realistic love story that has survived and 'stuck' til now. A fine read."
Pioneer News Network
"Hilarious! ... Tim Bazzett knows small-town life and he knows himself, which makes for a great combination in his continuing saga of both ... Male readers will laugh out loud as they commiserate with Bazzett on all things female. Female readers will just shake their heads and wonder if men ever really mature. All readers, though, will appreciate Bazzett's memories of college, new love and life in a small town ... Funny and warm ... as well as a love story that hasn't ended even today."
Grand Rapids Press
"The [Ferris State] campus and the 1960s are vividly evoked in this often-funny, often-poignant tale ... Anyone who was a college student in the '60s can probably relate to something here, whether they want to admit it or not."
Traverse City Record-Eagle
"Pinhead: A Love Story, third in an autobiographical series, [is] an engaging inside look at dating rituals and sexual mores of the mid-sixties."
PARVUM OPUS, number 200
"The higher education experience as described by Tim Bazzett [is] good stuff, with a lovely picture of two nerdy looking college kids on the cover, and some hilarious reminiscing about his trials and tribulations at Ferris back in the days of LBJ and Vietnam ... This guy's cool."
FSU Professor of Construction Technology & Management, in his "Just Clowning Around" column in the Big Rapids Pioneer
"Set primarily on the campus of Ferris State and in and around Big Rapids, [Pinhead] is a tale both of Bazzett's college years and a love story dedicated to his wife ... [The] book will appeal to a wide range of readers - particularly Ferris State alums."
"Plato says, 'The unexamined life is not worth living.' Tim Bazzett's memoirs set before us an examined life. They provide a fascinating window on a time we may have forgotten -- an amazingly detailed account of a life worth living. Maybe Thomas Wolfe was wrong. Perhaps, with the help of Reed City Boy, Soldier Boy, and Pinhead, we can go home again."
Dr. John Holladay
Proffessor of Humanities at Monroe County Community College (Monroe, Michigan)
"Part American Graffiti, part coming-home tale, Pinhead is a barrelling road-trip into a long-ago America -- not a simpler time, just funnier. Tim Bazzett has done it again -- he's told a story of a small town with poignance, yet with bravado and unfailing honesty -- the guy's a hoot! Vote for Pinhead."
author of the NY Times bestseller, In Harm's Way
"A delightfully nostalgic work ... Straightforward, frank, honest -- yet delicate and sensitive ... Like listening in person to a friend telling an absorbing story."
Dr. Herbert L. Carson (ret.)
Professor of English (1960-1994) at Ferris State University
"Bazzett's unique style combines anecdotes, digressions, and uncensored musings on his lustful search for love in this memoir which captures, I think, what it was like to be a veteran returning to small-town college life in the early 60s."
former President of Ferris State University
"I was caught by Reed City Boy, and held by Soldier Boy -- an all-American story, I thought. Pinhead is as good as the other two. I don't see why Tim Bazzett should ever stop writing Reed City into the history of small-town America."
Professor Emeritus of Literature at Princeton University, and author of The Growing Seasons
"Pinhead is a gutsy book ... College for Bazzett, and for many of the rest of us, was a time of extreme poverty, tough classes and an abundance of animal spirits ... On the subject of girls, Bazzett writes about all the things we thought about doing and tried to do, sometimes succeeding, but usually not. He thought about the moral dilemma a good Catholic boy faced, always a difficult choice between taking advantage of an opportunity and dealing with the guilt that was hard-wired into all our generation ... Paul Newman, in discussing his craft with some students, told them that to be successful, an actor had to 'show his fanny.' He didn't say fanny, but you get the idea. He went on to elaborate that an actor had to do and say what he thought a real person would, playing that part. Just take a chance and don't worry about what others may think. 'Show your ass.' That's what Bazzett has done with Pinhead. He wrote it exactly the way it happened [and] you know this was the real deal ... A realistic portrayal of hard work, hard times, and good times with a happy ending. I highly recommend it."
author of the automotive memoir, Forty Cars that Owned Me
"The title and subtitle of Pinhead: A Love Story sum up the balance of elements in this third installment of Tim Bazzett's memoirs: funny and romantic. Our hero's dogged determination to get a college education may be a revelation to younger readers. Instead of obtaining loans, students in those days managed to pay their way by working at very unglamorous jobs. Bazzett's writing is engaging and candid. A memorable memoir!"
Ruth Doan MacDougall
author of the beloved national best-seller, THE CHEERLEADER, and its acclaimed sequels, SNOWY and HENRIETTA SNOW
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