Schine at Harvard: Boy With the Baton

Copyright by The Harvard CRIMSON, May 7, 1954.

In Washington today, eight Senators, many high-priced legal brains and hordes of top Army brass will move wearily into the third week of their seemingly endless wrangle over the military career of a 26-year-old private named Gerard David Schine. To many it seems incredible that the fortunes of this young man should demand the sustained attention of such an array of talent, and should obsess the nation by press and TV. But to most of those who knew Dave Schine '49 at Harvard it is no surprise.

In his years, here this big, blond sleepy-looking boy had one all-consuming interest: the life and times of G. David Schine. Almost all those who knew him find the present battle over special privileges in the Army perfectly consistent with their reconstructed picture of him. Says one, "Dave lived for himself and was intensely ambitions. He thought he was pretty special and thought he ought to get special favors. He may have had a code of ethics, but it was a code we knew nothing about."

Everyone with whom he came in contact here, including his friends, agrees that Schine's main trouble was his money. He had plenty of it as the son of J. Myer Schine, multi-millionaire owner of the Schine Hotel chain which includes such luxury hostelries as the Roney Plaza in Miami and the Ambassador in Los Angeles. The family also owns several radio stations and 150 movie theatres.

Made Wealth a Disadvantage

Such wealth is not necessarily a disadvantage, but in many ways it was to Dave Schine since he began sharing in huge chunks of it very early in life. While still at Harvard, Dave became vice-president of the chain and apparently oversaw a large part of it from his Adams House room. Upon graduation, at the age of 22, he was made president and general manager.


Wealth, of course, is not out of place here, but Schine, certainly one of the richest men in his class, made it so. He lived in a style which went out here with the era of the Gold Coast: and exquisitely furnished room, a valet, a big black convertible equipped with a two-way phone-radio, and a fabulous electronic piano with built-in radio and phonograph. Nobody seems to know exactly what his allowance was while he was here, but he always had plenty of money to spend.

Most important, however, was his super-consciousness of being wealthy. Donald G. Colley '49, his roommate his second term in Adams, says, "Dave was always very distrustful of everybody. He never made any friends because he always seemed to feel that people were nice to him only because of his money. Maybe somebody took advantage of him once and ever since he's been suspicious of people's motives."

Others point out that Schine seemed unable to forget his money. He used to flaunt his wealth a great deal. One roommate remembers his coming into the room saying, "I'm signing a check for $3,000. Have you ever signed a check for that much?" Another remembers him carrying a suitcase with $1,100 in it through the Yard, "just for fun."

But money for Schine was not merely money. It meant influence and power, and this was apparently what he craved. His roommates remember that he was always talking about what he could do with his influence and money, and seemed constantly bent on demonstrating this.

"He was obsessed with the idea of being a big shot," says Herbert Fisher '49, his first roommate in Adams." He loved to be given special attention and to be thought influential and one of his favorite ways of demonstrating it to others was to walk into one of the Schine hotels, ask and get special treatment."

Wanted Special Privileges

Schine apparently felt that his wealth and position as president of the hotel chain meant that he deserved special privileges. Perhaps the most important of these, which embroiled him in quite a row with the University and Adams House administrations, was his demand that he be allowed to have a private secretary to handle his business. Schine asked permission for the secretary to have a key and be allowed to enter and leave the House at will any time during the day. This request was denied by Headmaster David M. Little, who said that Schine could have the secretary up to his room any time he wished during parictal hours, but that he would not be granted any special privileges. Wilbur J. Bender, then Dean of the College, became involved in the controversy when he declared, in accordance with University regulations, that Schine could not use his room as an office. He could have the secretary up during parietal hours to type letters for him, but he could not use his room as his business address.

It was later discovered that Schine used his secretary for academic purposes too. She attended his classes for him and took notes in shorthand which she later typed out. He also had a neat system for taking reading notes, reading important passages into his dictaphone for typing by the secretary later.

Leaves College in 1946

It took Schine some time to latch on to this method. Until then he apparently had some difficulty with getting his work done, so much difficulty in fact that he was forced to leave college in the spring of 1946. There is some question about whether he actually flunked out or left by some sort of mutual agreement with the college. Those who knew him say his grades that first year were almost all D's and E's. Apparently they were not so bad that the college gave up on him, however, because he was readmitted in the fall of '47.