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Schine at Harvard: Boy With the Baton

Copyright by The Harvard CRIMSON, May 7, 1954.

By World Wide

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.

Schine spent that off year in the Army Transport Service. On his reapplication to Adams House he said he was a "lieutenant in the Army," but this was not so. He had the "simulated rank of lieutenant" which apparently meant that he had the same pay scale as a lieutenant, but he was only a civilian. His actual job, according to Colley, was that of an assistant purser on an Army transport.

In Schine's first year at Harvard--he entered in the summer session of 1945--he attracted little attention. He lived in B-entry of Winthrop, which was then used as a Freshman dormitory. In the spring of 1946 he moved to Adams and roomed with Herbert Fisher in C-37, but still attracted relatively little notice. It was not until his return to college after the year off that he began to give rise to the series of stories which make up the Schine legend.

In his application to Adams, Schine had asked for a single room, giving as his reason the fact that his work suffered if he had roommates. But because of the crowded post-war conditions he was put in a converted double with Colley. It took only a short while for Colley and everybody on the floor to begin disliking him intensely. One thing that irked them most was his "masquerading as a veteran." Says Joseph Blundon '49, "We were all veterans and his pretending to be one went over like a lead balloon."

Schine soon complained to Headmaster Little that nobody was speaking to him and Little asked his roommates to be a little nicer to him. "We tried," said Colley, "but he made it impossible."

Finally in the spring of '48 Schine was moved to a single room, Adams G-43, where he stayed for the rest of his college career.

One story, told by Colley and repeated by several other people, may be partially apocryphal, but it indicates the sort of flamboyant act which is constantly associated with him by all his old acquaintances.

Schine had ordered his fantastic electronic piano, called a DynaTone, from the Ansley Radio Corporation in Trenton, New Jersey. Colley describes this strange instrument as having strings like a regular piano whose vibrations were reproduced by vacuum tubes and played through an amplifier instead of sounding directly. The same amplifier could also be used for a radio and phonograph which were set into one side of the piano. With this arrangement the piano could be played with either the radio or phonograph through a series of microphones in the piano. Colley also seems to remember a cabinet for a TV set, although Schine did not have one since there was no television station in Boston at that time. The whole thing was finished in bright white.

Colley describes the arrival of this instrument late one spring afternoon. The thing was so difficult to move that a permit had to be obtained to block off Plympton Street for a short time. The movers apparently felt that the piano could not be moved five flights up to Schine's room that evening; but he reportedly insisted, promising to pay them overtime. The movers agreed, but after moving it about half way they told Schine that even if they got it up there that night he would not be able to play it since it would need to be installed by a technician. Incensed, so the story goes, Schine rushed to his room, got on the phone, called Mr. Ansley in Trenton, and told him that he wanted a technician immediately. After some argument, Ansley agreed and a technician grabbed a plane, installed the piano, and flew back again. With the piano installed, Schine sat down, ran his fingers along the keyboard and said "Well, I guess I'll go to bed."

This story, says Colley, illustrates Schine's attitude. "He always insisted he could do anything he wanted. He could too, you know. The word Schine always seemed to work magic. He could always get plane reservations which nobody else could get. But this power gave him an awful contemptuous air--a "You're the sucker' attitude."

Obsessed With Power

This assessment is supported by a Radcliffe girl whom Schine dated frequently. She describes how Schine was obsessed with power and the contrast between the strong and the weak. She tells of a paper which he wrote for a Human Relations course that he took. The paper was supposed to describe a concrete situation of human interaction, and Schine chose a real conflict with his roommate and the other men on the floor. It seems that all the others on the floor were extremely good friends, very gregarious, and liked to have the fire doors on the floor left open. But not Schine. He objected and asked Dr. Little, to have them closed. He was not successful.

Schine chose this conflict for the theme of his paper. He described the conflict between the "strong roommate" who wanted the fire-door closed and the "weak roommate" who wanted it open. The strong one won out in the end, of course. Schine's section man gave him a bad mark on the paper and commented that the "strong roommate" was probably in need of psychiatric help.

Schine's obsession with the question of power is also illustrated by his strange preoccupation with Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead. In his days in Adams he used to say over and over again that this was his "favorite book" because it illustrated the importance of power and what a sham altruism was. He used to have long intense discussions with this girl on the subject, but she never succeeded in arguing him out of his position.

She also says that Schine was naturally a rather gregarious person, but that when he found difficulty in getting along with others he began to rationalize until he insisted that he did not need friends. "He liked to be thought of as a mysterious loner, somebody nobody knew very much. He wanted people to point him out and say "There goes that mysterious Schine guy.'"

But if he did not want friends he certainly did not get them. Fisher says, "I can't remember anyone who was disliked by so many people. He had a host of enemies. But Schine never lot on that this bothered him. He never seemed very concerned about anything that went on at Harvard. His interests were elsewhere and he never even spent much time in Adams."

Schine rarely ate in Adams, preferring Boston hotels, particularly the Statler. In his last two years he spent most of his weekends in New York, and, according to one roommate, had a room reserved at the Waldorf Astoria. Much of his activity on these weekends was reportedly devoted to either chasing or being chased by women, most of them show-girls. On one occasion he even chased as far as Hollywood, where he had some well-publicized flirtatious with one of Joan Bennett's daughters and starlet Piper Laurie.

With all this extra-curricular activity, Schine's academic work obviously suffered badly. G. David never took this side of life very seriously. His roommates say he was "quite intelligent but never used what he had." He started off majoring in Economics, because, according to one friend, "he was going to enter his father's business and wanted to have a background." While in Ec, he took Accounting, Money and Banking and Schumpeter's course in the Economics of Socialism, in addition to the full-year elementary course. Then, for some reason or other, Schine turned to Government and specialized in International Relations. In this field he took a course in International Law, an Introduction to International Relations, another in Internation Politics and one in American Foreign Policy since 1935, plus Government 1a and 1b. In addition he took Professor Karpovich's course in the History of Russia since 1800 and President Conant's General Education course in The Growth of Experimental Science.

Considerable Entertaining

One of the myths about Schine has been that he was an honors candidate and did his thesis on Psychological Warfare. This story was apparently originated when Schine was working on the investigation of the Voice of America. There appears to be absolutely no foundation for it. As far as is known he was never an honors candidate, and he never got an honors degree.

Another myth about Schine is that he was intensely interested in politics here. Most of his friends say they never heard him discuss politics. One girl who knew him said, "When his name came up as a consultant to the McCarthy committee, I was really amazed that he ended up in politics. When I knew him he was interested in music, art and literature. But I never heard him talk about politics." Schine never was a member of a student political organization.

This apparent lack of interest in politics during college is somewhat puzzling. For in 1952, only three years after he graduated, Schine wrote and circulated a pamphlet called "Definition of Communism" in which he warned of the menace and urged that "positive" counter steps be taken against Communism. Among these he listed the Marshall Plan, U.N. resistance in Korea, the North Atlantic Treaty and the Voice of America. This pamphlet was printed in large quantities and distributed on the bureaus of all his hotels.

Where exactly Schine's knowledge of Communism came from is an open question. His academic study of the subject here was restricted to the Russian history course and the course in the Economics of Socialism. He may have done reading on the subject, but his roommates say they rarely saw him studying, much less reading. He did read the newspapers, however, and Colley recalls that Schine studied for one exam in Government exclusively by reading news stories and editorials in Boston papers.

Schine's lack of participation in student political activity was part of a general lack of interest in extracurricular groups, the only significant exception being his sojourn in the band.

Two years ago at the Yale game, Peter Strauss '54 was warming the band up in front of Memorial Hall, when a "big, bruising guy came up to see me and said 'I feel like a proud papa seeing how the band has grown.'" Strauss asked him why, and Schine said, "Well I was responsible for getting the band started again after the war and it was I who persuaded Mal Holmes to start conducting it again."

As band members of that time remember it, Schine could validly make the first but not the second claim. He was largely responsible for starting the band after the war. But he was never official manager. His most exalted moment was the Yale game of '45 when he did conduct the band. But when he came to run for the official position of manager in the spring of '46 he was defeated by Tom Howard '47, even though he campaigned by promising the band all sorts of financial help. After his defeat he quit the band, petulantly refusing even to play the cymbais which was his instrument.

Schine's interest in the band was part of a real interest in music. While he was here he wrote songs and published at least two, "All of My Loves" and "Please Say Yes, or its Goodbye."

Schine is reported to have made frequent trips to New York during which he attempted to persuade band leaders to play his songs. Several did, particularly those who played in his father's hotels.

His social life here was rather strange. He didn't date many Radcliffe girls, apparently preferring visiting celebrities, starlets, showgirls, models. According to the Adams House superintendent who knew him well, Schine got many telephone calls and telegrams from different girls. He reports Schine had a particular preference for airline stewardesses. Others say Schine loved to be seen with beautiful women. Schine's father was always afraid that he would get married while at college, but one girl who went out with him dismisses this possibility. "Dave certainly wasn't the type to get involved with a girl."

Few Liked Him

Schine did considerable entertaining himself at a suite in the Statler, but his Boston social life was somewhat limited. At the beginning he was invited to many socially prominent homes, but according to one person who knew him, Schine alienated many of his hosts by pulling his "telephone trick." This consisted of phoning from his car and saying "This is G. David Schine, I'm now driving through Copley Square, could you direct me a little further" and then later "This is G. David Schine, I'm now at Kenmore Square. Could you give me more directions please."

Despite such antics, most people agree that he could be quite socially mature and was remarkably urbane, poised and glib for his age. Almost everybody agrees that he rarely if ever lost control of himself. He was a fastidious dresser, although salesmen at J. Press, where be bought most of his clothes, remember him as "Not our type of dresser; more the 'California' type."

One thing universally said is that he very much appreciated things done for him and always remembered favors. He was very generous with people who had done things for him (though he never extended this to his class fund to which he has never given) and usually remembered them at Christmas with packages of fruit from the Wiggins Tavern in Northampton which is owned by the Schine chain.

Never in Honors

And yet few people genuinely liked him. The only three who could be located are Pete and Charlie of the Crimson Men's Shop, who both remember him as a "really nice fellow," and Tony Vento, the Adams House janitor who served as Schine's valet.

Vento, now an assistant superintendent of PBH, got to know Schine very well and did a lot of work for him, took his clothes to the cleaners, and did odd jobs. They became quite close friends, and Schine visited Vento's house for dinner several times.

Vento remembers him as a "Great fellow. He was never stuck-up. He spoke well of everybody, and was friendly with everybody. He was a good-living, clean-living boy."

Asked about the present fracas, Vento says, "I don't believe any of the things they're saying about him. I just got a letter from him saying he was having a fine time in the Army. He would never try to got out of the Army, and I'm sure he wants to serve as a private. That's the kind of guy he is."Schine's most famous exploit while with the McCarthy Committee as an unpaid consultant was his trip to Europe with Chief Counsel Roy Cohn to investigate the United States Information Service and the Voice of America. For this trip they were labeled "Junketeering gumshoes" by Theodore Khagan. The two are shown above during their visit to Rome.

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