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Stanley Eisenstein

Stanley Eisenstein

Chicago attorney | Katz, Friedman, Eagle, Eisenstein, Johnson & Bareck | Class of 1968

Ten takeaways from Chicago attorney and two-degree grad Stanley Eisenstein (BA '68, history; JD '73, law):

1. First impressions as a freshman.  "A vivid memory immediately upon setting foot on campus, coming from the South Side of Chicago, was the campus-wide accommodations for disabled students.

"It was a revelation to see buses with lifts, all campus buildings with entrance ramps, and almost all street crossings with sloped curves, coupled with a great number of students in wheelchairs. I realized that I now was experiencing another world and soon came to appreciate how the University of Illinois was light years ahead in its solicitude for the disabled."

2. A great professor.  "Focusing on my time in law school, the selection of my most influential teacher is easy:  John Cribbet. His love of teaching was exemplified by the fact that notwithstanding that he was the dean of the law school, he still was driven to teach Freshman Property.

"He was chancellor of the U of I from 1979 to 1984 but then returned to his first love — teaching first-year law students. His classes were a must. He had the unique ability to turn wrong answers — of which there were many from (first-year law) students into a true learning experience for the whole class.

"I truly was fortunate to have had John Cribbett set me on my future legal career pathway."

3. Collect calls in the pre-cell phone era. "The concept of collect calls has mostly gone the way of the horse and buggy. However, back in the '60s, collect calls were common.

"A lot of loose change was required for a long-distance call home from a pay phone. However, in order to avoid running up phone charges, students didn’t always want their collect calls home accepted.

"If they merely wanted to assure parents/family that they had safely arrived, 'they' — me — would use a phony, prearranged name or code word and the Bell Telephone operator would then ask the recipient, family/parents, if they would accept the call from that strange name.

"Mom or Dad would decline to accept the call, secure in the knowledge that their son Stanley had safely arrived, and not have to pay a penny for a collect call."

4. Ride sharing in the pre-internet era.  "Those very few students who were fortunate enough to have cars on campus would post their availability to share rides — for a fee — on bulletin boards. Are bulletin boards still used?"

5. Mandatory disclosure of a 'mistress' in C-U: post-graduation dating. "In May 1977, I had a blind date that during the summer of '77 seemed to be working out well. However, I soon realized that I had to disclose that future fall Saturday dates would be impacted by the mistress I was regularly seeing in Champaign, Illinois.

"That 'mistress' was Fighting Illini football, for which I have long been a season ticket holder. 

"Postscript: My compelled disclosure of a mistress has worked out very well. That first blind date, which occurred on Friday the 13th, two years later led to my marriage to Marilyn. Marilyn has came to accept the Fighting Illini as my mistress. Indeed, she has been going to football games with me ever since then."

6. Given enough time, a monkey with a typewriter could complete the entire works of Shakespeare. Here’s the proof.

"My junior year in LAS, I was looking for an elective. Having had geometry and trigonometry in high school — yes, my Chicago public high school did offer an advanced trig course — a course entitled Analytic Geometry intrigued me. So, I signed up for it.

"The small class was in a dreary basement room in Altgeld Hall. My several classmates were math, engineering or science majors. I was not that type, being an LAS history major.

"Added to this, the TA was from India, with a severe accent that made her hard to understand. However, she apparently spoke 'math,' which seemed to resonate well with everybody else in the class but me, a non-math major.

"The only reason I got a C in the course — my only C in undergrad — was that on a critical mid-term exam, I somehow had submitted a perfect exam. I still remember the look of disgust on the professor’s face when she handed me my test paper with a perfect score.

"The class’ village idiot had outperformed all the other math, science and engineering students. Indeed, my recollection is that the next highest grade on that exam was a C. This perfect score was the only reason I passed Analytic Geometry because I think I must have failed every other exam during the semester or at best got a D. To this day, I still have no idea what this course is about.

"In short, my performance on this one Analytic Geometry exam proves the adage:  Given enough time, a monkey will eventually type up the works of Shakespeare.

"PS: Does anybody know what Analytic Geometry is?"

7. Senior living in an apartment/misuse of religion. "Apartment living now is de rigueur on campus. However, long ago, undergrads could not live in apartments.

"Undergrads had to live in approved university housing such as dorms, frats, sororities or a handful of boarding houses. This occurred because, back then, there was a shortage of apartments near campus and they were needed for married or grad students.

"However, Jewish students could get an apartment by using the 'kosher' excuse. All that was needed was a note from a rabbi — who immediately knew the charade — that he/she needed to live in an apartment in order to keep kosher.

"It was a widespread scam used by many Jewish undergrads back then, including my two roommates on White Street."

8. Regret. "I regret that there was not enough one-on-one time with professors in undergrad. The large lecture halls kept undergrads from interaction with their professors. Professors were distant both physically and by reputation."

9. Point of personal privilege. "Not only have I been a season ticket holder for Fighting Illini football since my freshman year — with one exception: the 0-10 1969 season — this now will be my 50th season as a season ticket holder with classmate/family friend Mark Goldenberg and his wife Bonnie, from Granite City.

"We have had the joy of seeing our families — five kids — grow up and move into adulthood, visiting one another five, six, seven times on Saturdays in the fall. Can anybody top this record of two Illini undergrad and law school alumni who live at opposite ends of the state?"

10. Murphy’s. "The go-to place for law school students."