The opportunity to work for the ICHS was not one that I had in any way anticipated. In fact, after returning from a mini-odyssey of my own, my priorities were on my family, job and fleeting thoughts of an attempt at graduate school. So, when I received a call about the position, I was so eager to take it that I made little effort to explain that I had had almost no web-design experience or to find out all of the particulars of the job.
As so many of us often do, I learned by doing (and continue to do so now). As I sorted through files, attended meetings and events, catalogued, coordinated and cleaned wherever I could, I read through a wealth of material, from books to journals and offprints. It was around that time that I came across a box of files for the Classical Humanities Society (about which I knew nothing). I grew increasingly fascinated as I saw the impressive list of names, read the constitution and even came across a summary or two of past lectures. Seeing the CHSSJ for what is has always been, an irreplaceable part of the fabric of Stockton, I thought it would be fitting to assemble a page of past lectures and their topics. Doing so only increased my curiosity as I began to wonder what those lectures might have been about. When CHSSJ co-hounder, Fred Mench, mentioned that he had many summaries of said lectures, I made it a personal goal to preserve and present them. I had no idea how difficult that would be.Then, he brought in 5" floppy discs which he used for data storage on his old Apple II...and then I realized how difficult that would be.
Allow me, for a moment, to stop at this line of the story and draw another separate one which will intersect it.
I do not hate Apple or the Macintosh line of computers, but I certainly no longer care very much for them. They were practically the only computers I had ever used (despite brief love affairs with a Texas Instruments TI-994A and a Commodore 64 and a detestable few years with a TRS-80) until college. I was so blind with love and affection for Macs that even the annoying issues with expensive, proprietary parts seemed only a minor inconvenience to me. However, with the advent of OSX, I bid farewell to Apple and did what I have rarely ever done, conform. I bought a Windows-PC and have been there ever since.
So, it was nostalgic anticipation that I received the old discs from Professor Mench. In the weeks that followed, I relived - with greater frustration than I recalled - the maddening compatibility issues. I could get nothing to read the discs. I had borrowed a Performa. I had tried, in vain, to breathe new life into my Mac SE30. I even tried networking early Internet-capable machines to my Apple Bandai Pippin. Everything that could be done to get those discs read and transfered , I tried. Failure at every turn.
I then found help in the one thing that Apple can truly boast: its userbase. Advice and help came from all different corners; from people who, for the most part, didn't know me. People contacted other people and made connections for me that I didn't know existed. Helpful diagrams on repairing the Performa (I know less about computer repair than I do about web-design), cables, floppy drives, boot-discs and more were offered, loaned, given to me. It all culminated in one very kind person loading up his car with an Apple IIe which he had found in the corner of a child study team room of an elementary school in the Cherry Hill area and driving it down for me to borrow for the summer! It was with that I was able to at least view the summaries on the IIe and re-type them onto my pc, edit them and get them onto the website here as the "Resurrected Summaries."
I fell in love with Apple all over again while relishing every word of those summaries by a plethora of scholars. It was an all-new kind of loving and learning replete with frustation, nostalgia, gratitude coursing through me, my 36-year old joints and the aging circuits of 26 year-old computers battling- the former battling fatigue, the latter, bit-rot.
There are still summaries to be found but, for the time being, the Apple portion of the adventure is over. As much to the great people in the ICHS and FHS (who gave me the opportunity to work among them) I owe a tremendous and long-overdue debt to the people who went scurrying into their attics for old parts, gave me advice on technical matters, prevented me from hurling dying hardware and obsolete discs out my window and reminded what makes Apple so damned cool! It is their generosity that has allowed the summaries to live and breathe again.
Many, many thanks to J. Tarby, D. Palance, D. Harvey, K. Thompkins, J. Shockey, R. Gregg, T. Papademetriou for suggestions, advice and, in some cases, technical expertise and extra-special thanks to J. Casey and D. Dimmerman (the man who found the Apple IIe) for their time, experitise and hardware!