Nonfiction from NER 35.1.
It was a Wednesday around 8:30 p.m., a week before Thanksgiving, 1958, when I strolled down the third floor corridor of Bancroft Hall towards Ted Bedford’s faculty apartment. He was on duty that night—thus the open door. Jef, one of my fellow preps (what ninth graders were called at Phillips Exeter Academy), had invited me and his roommate, Brink, to spend the holiday break with his family in Salem, Massachusetts. It was the first time I had visited Bedford’s faculty office, a space sealed off in the back foyer of his family living quarters by a mahogany door exactly like the one I lingered just outside of now, in the dorm hallway, an unsigned permission slip from the Dean of Students in hand.
Bedford sat at his desk, facing away from the hall and poring over some papers as I waited for him to notice me. He turned his head towards me with a glance that asked, “What’s up?,” his eyebrows becoming question marks as he peered over his glasses. I handed him the slip and asked him to sign it because my adviser was out of town. Bedford pushed his chair away from his desk and spun to face me, his smile so wide it seemed to touch his sideburns. “Well, I got a deal for you. Before I’ll sign, you must get a haircut.”
Larry I. Palmer is an emeritus professor of law at Cornell University. His professional work has focused on health policy and bioethics, and his published works include Endings and Beginnings: Law, Medicine, and Society in Assisted Life and Death (Praeger, 2000) and Law, Medicine and Social Justice (1989). A previous essay, “Checkerboard Segregation in the 1950 s,” which appeared in Law Touched Our Hearts: A Generation Remembers Brown v. Board of Education (Vanderbilt University Press, 2009), and the essay in this issue of NER are excerpts from a memoir he is currently writing. He lives in Richmond, Virginia.