Our pleasure during the early hours that evening was forever clouded by subsequent events. I returned to the house to discover a message in hand-printed letters telling me and/or my frat brother to call the Western Union office. I called with trepidation.
The message, droned by some sleepy night clerk, was: UNABLE ACCEPT RECEIPTS ARRIVED HERE FIVE-FIFTEEN STOP. GOOD LUCK. Ten words whose meaning was simple: You boys are booking this week's bets.
I tried to sleep. Impossible. Visions of bettors demanding thousands of dollars disrupted any possibility of rest. What if there were 30 winners? Or 40? Or 50? Or 60? My partner slept not a wink. This was normal for him, though, as he was an insomniac.
We discussed several alternatives during that long night. We could go to sea. We could always enlist in the Lincoln Brigade on the Loyalist side in Spain. We might go into the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps). Or we could run—and run and run.
Early Saturday morning my associate called his father as a last resort, hoping he could offer us an alternative. My colleague carefully explained our lapse, and made light of the fact that we were 15 minutes late. His father had a message for us. Good luck was the best he could do.
Breakfast and lunch were tasteless. There was a miserable rain falling in Memorial Stadium, and Southern Cal deepened our gloom by whipping the Illini 24-6. We slogged back to the Deke house to begin the countdown on the termination of our college careers.
Chilled, wet and zombie-like, we went through the motions of checking the cards while listening to the radio, recording the scores germane to our project. We quickly eliminated many broken dreams, but we needed a key Eastern score to determine whether we would rejoin the living or be forced to seek sanctuary in a Tibetan monastery.
The University of Pittsburgh boasted the East's finest team, coached by Jock Sutherland. It was described as a juggernaut and was heavily favored to sweep its schedule.
The previous Saturday, Pitt had beaten mighty Ohio State, and this week the Panthers met Duquesne, a crosstown school that had an enrollment of 1,300. At least nine-tenths of the bettors' cards had picked Pitt to slaughter the Dukes.
At approximately 4 p.m. the local announcer, amid a jumble, to us, of strange-sounding Eastern university scores, intoned: "Duquesne 7, Pittsburgh 0." He hurried on with his interminable list of games and scores without comment.