THOUGHTS ON TIME TRAVEL, by Art Smukler MD, author & psychiatrist

My trip back in time started this morning, with an innocent glance at the sports news.

The Big Ten just closed a blockbuster, seven year, seven billion dollar TV deal, to start in 2023. That’s a lot of money! All college athletes, nomatter what their sport, will benefit, as will the individual universities.

From there my mind wandered to Penn State football. Two weeks and the new season begins.

And from there, I was transported back to the sixties – Vietnam, Joe Paterno, JFK, Bay of Pigs, LBJ, Marching against the war… The 1964 NYC World’s Fair.

My mind spun faster and faster and faster and I was tossed back to a time that I hadn’t thought about in decades – the middle of the Spring Quarter of my senior year.

I got the intense idea that I needed to escape.

I tossed my suitcase in the trunk of my old Plymouth Valliant and set out to The Big Apple. The fact that I only had a few hundred bucks didn’t seem to bother me. Nothing bothered me! Genetics, histology, and biochemistry would just have to wait until I got back.

It was a six hour trip from State College to NYC. Halfway there, I somewhat came to my senses. Where would I stay? How much was food? Gas didn’t cost much, but my car only got 10-12 mpg and I would quickly run out of money.

I remembered a girl who had an apartment in the The Village. At the next gas station, I called information. The operator got me her number, and she hesitantly agreed that I could stay with her. She made me promise that whatever I saw or did at her place had to remain a secret.

I 100% agreed. Her secret would never leave my lips. In all these years, it never did.

What was the secret?

Check out my next post, THOUGHTS ON TIME TRAVEL 2.

You can also check out, THE REAL STORY, a mystery.

Mysteries can be fun.


The vision of the Sandusky horror is almost too much to fathom — a sexual predator allowed access to a hallowed sports facility because the men in power just couldn’t and wouldn’t systematically investigate one of their own. Disgrace to Joe Paterno, football sanctions, a mass exodus of players to other teams, and a university disrespected and threatened with a loss of accreditation, was accepted as the righteous result of their transgression.

Enter the beleaguered team and Bill O’Brien, the new coach, to start the season. The resounding “We Are Penn State” was down to a muffled embarrassed whimper. Then the team lost its first two games and it appeared that the humiliation and devalued attitude was here to stay.

Week three, and the team dumps gallons of Gatorade on O’Brien’s head after their first win. Weeks four and five and six, they win again and again and AGAIN. Is the Phoenix finally dragging itself out of the ashes of shower rooms and sexual perversity?

It’s fun and wonderful to win, but in this case, it’s not just winning a football game, it’s winning the battle against an infectious stigma that made a great majority of Penn Staters feel humiliated and devalued by what their elders did over a decade ago. I wonder how many PSU Ts and sweatshirts stayed hidden in closets?

Is this any different than what so many of us experienced at the hands of our own parents? Insensitivity, violence, sexual abuse and flat-out stupidity can obviously influence an entire life. The results of poor parenting —  depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem, are rampant in psychiatric offices. Helping a patient unravel how the past has unduly influenced his view of himself is often very helpful.

Like the changes happening at Penn State, we can also change. We don’t have to continue to feel trapped or controlled or humiliated by what our parents did or didn’t do. It’s wonderful to have a new hero like Bill O’Brien, but let’s keep in mind what happened with our old hero, Joe Paterno. He was simply a human being with his own set of limitations.

We need to embrace the hero inside each of us, the part that doesn’t follow the herd and does the right thing, whatever it takes.

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