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Thursday, December 07, 2006

Car Quiz for College President

BOWLING GREEN, Ohio (TDB) -- With 21,000 students to look out for, Bowling Green State University President Sidney A. Ribeau figured he could open a strong line of campus communication by taking questions from all comers over the Internet on a link to his office through the state school's Website. So far, it has worked out surprisingly well and Ribeau has been able to dialogue diplomatically about how out-of-state scholarships work, what the future holds for campus housing, and even discuss meal plans and crowded conditions in the campus center chow hall.

But Ribeau, who has been the school's chief since 1995 (a remarkably long tenure in this era of revolving door administrators) has had to field one inquiry out of left field. Or maybe Detroit, the city where he grew up, which is about an hour drive north of Bowling Green.

"What was your first car?" was the question. Fortunately, he had the correct answer, considering all the auto factories and parts plants around Bowling Green's slice of the country.

"My first car was a gray, two-door 1957 Plymouth,'' Ribeau responded. ''My mother discovered it at a gas station and bought it for me for $100. What was distinctive about the car was that only the passenger-side door opened, and so that was the only way in or out. Today that would definitely be a safety hazard. My Plymouth served me well throughout my junior and senior years of high school, and it acted as sort of a community vehicle -- in my group of friends it was the only car we had."

I think the one-door Plymouth would be a safety hazard in those days, too. Didn't '57 Plymouths have big fins on the rear and lots of chrome; or were those DeSotos? At least Ribeau didn't tool around in an Edsel. Alas, all those makes are extinct today, along with the Oldsmobile and Studebaker. What car is going next -- some predict the Pontiac or Buick.

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