Mr. Rogers Meets Peewee Herman
I have some memories of AC in Pasadena in the late ’70s, mostly about some of the more, shall we say, colorful individuals I roomed with.
My first year I was in Manor Del Mar, in what we called the cattle car- a large box like structure stuck built on the side of the manor house.It featured wall to wall bunk beds and tiny desks separated by partitions. The freshman class president and the dorm RA, who were built like linebackers, spent a great deal of time pretending to be gay and pranced around in their underwear saying “oooh, stop that you big savage!” For some reason, girls tended to avoid anyone from Del Mar. Another individual had two desks overflowing with just about every PT, booklet and reprint article the church ever printed. And each one was scribbled on, underlined, and cross referenced with red felt pens and exclamation points. His favorite activity was moaning and wailing in the basement prayer closets and beseeching God not to throw him into the lake of fire. It was usually loud enough to wake people up two floors away. His personal hygiene was so lax that he slept on a bare mattress and could wake an entire floor up just by taking off his shoes. We decorated a pair of underwear with black and brown shoe polish and hung it on his book shelf. It looked so real that no one even wanted to touch it. He didn’t notice it for more than two weeks. He finally flunked out by simply praying all night and sleeping through all of his classes.
My second year I returned to Pasadena only to be told that the college had overbooked the dorms and there were no beds available. Apparently, counting skills were not a job prerequisite for the housing office. Having no where else to go, I slept on a window seat in the basement of Del Mar until the Feast, and then was told that I would have to move to Olcott. This was an empty building which had been previously closed and condemned by the Pasadena Fire marshall. The entire second floor furnishings consisted of one tiny bathroom for the entire second floor, foam pads on the floor and warped, water stained folding tables for desks. It stayed that way pretty much the entire year, but we were building GODLY CHARACTER! Yeah, right. One of my roomies would, on occasion, dress up in medieval garb and run through the dorm brandishing a very real, very sharp broad sword. Another “roomie” who was nicknamed “Nazi” kicked his date out of the car they were riding in and forced her to walk back to campus in the dark because she “disrespected his authority as a man over her”.
And let us not forget some of the faculty. One professor, whose sole claim to academic fame was graduating AC and having a father who was an evangelist, would “lecture” his class by leaning on the podium, rocking back and forth, jingling keys and loose change in his pocket, and staring at the ceiling. He taught public speaking, by the way.
My final year of living on campus was back at Del Mar. The Resident Assistant for Del Mar got free housing, food, and tuition for taking the job. Naturally, he got a job off campus and was never actually at the dorm. One freshman decided that the basement lounge was a great place to practice, so he and his friends started a rock band. This made it impossible to even carry on a conversation, let alone study. I was forced to study in the library. The petty theft got so bad the administration decided they would mount a sting operation. They started leaving money and personal items out which had been dusted with fluorescent powder. We were awakened one morning by the campus security police who were searching closets, desks and shining a UV light over everyone’s hands to find the guilty parties. It solved nothing, of course.
I think my fondest memory was centered around having the graduation talent show canceled. It had traditionally been written and produced by the Junior class as a tribute to the graduating seniors. When a copy of the script was sent to the administration, they canceled the entire show on the spot. We were informed that it might be a source of offense among the ministry. They had taken exception to the use of a banana as a prop to introduce a musical number called, “yes, we have no bananas!”. When a group of us went to Dr. Germano to try and present our case for allowing the show to go on we were told, quite emphatically, that “you do not have first amendment rights with regard to your enrollment at Ambassador College”. I was dumbfounded and outraged. I had not been aware that suspension of your constitutional rights was required for attendance at AC. Glad they got that straightened out! And damn me for my bad attitude
And did I mention the roving groups of baptizers that sprang up during finals week? They were usually a group of horny, overstressed upper class men who would go up to the front door of one of the girl’s dorm rooms, grab whoever answered the door, and carry that person to the nearest fountain and dump them in–fully clothed. It got so bad that the girls were adamantly refusing to even open their door. I’m still amazed that no one filed assault charges.
My four years at AC were long, expensive, a unique experience, and ultimately useless. A BS degree from an unaccredited bible college sponsored by a cultish, near Christian sect carries very little academic weight. There were some great people, to be sure. But it was like living in a bowl of granola–whoever wasn’t a nut or a flake was a fruit. I actually laughed out loud at one of the recruitment videos the church produced when AC was moved back to Texas. Seeing all of those wide eyed smiling zealots talking about being “pioneers” in the new and exciting Ambassador University made me cringe. I felt like grabbing them by the lapels and yelling, “Run! Run like the wind. Save yourselves!” Might have saved a few from throwing away their college careers. But maybe the best way of getting attention of an AC graduate who didn’t become a minister is to yell, ” Hey, waiter!”
This is just a small part of the idiocies I endured while at AC–there were many, many more. But I went there believing, at first, that this was God’s own handiwork preparing for the end of the age. When I finally left, I didn’t even want to talk about it, I was so bitter. The autocratic abuse of power, the mishandling of materials and funds, and the total incompetence of so many people in positions of authority was truly mind boggling. It was never really a surprise that Ambassador in Pasadena failed to get accreditation. That would have required them to actually have an educational program worth presenting, and then it wouldn’t have been Ambassador.
Blast from the past by Ron.