So much information is now archived on the internet, and search engines have become so proficient in isolating the most esoteric tidbits, that I am constantly tempted to take advantage of the Google search window in the upper right corner of my browser. I have always been inflicted with an inveterate curiosity that I can now satisfy on a moment’s whim.
Hence, out of the blue I searched “scholar quiz,” eventually landing at a CV posted by a retired Boston University history professor, Joseph Boslin, who wrote the questions and served as judge. I immediately sent him an email inquiry on 08/23/13, which he forwarded to Arnold Shapiro (Arnold Shapiro Productions), who then replied to me directly a few days later.
Shapiro is a very successful television producer and writer, having won 16 Emmy Awards and 1 Oscar (for his 1978 documentary Scared Straight!). Now age 72, Shapiro is producing the fourth and last season of his A&E series, “Beyond Scared Straight.”
Shapiro not only told me that Scholarquiz was the very first TV series he ever sold (at age 22), but he also informed me that my episode was taped on December 4, 1965, and aired on the 11th! In addition, the team we beat was from Los Angeles High School – the only L.A. high school older than Poly! None of these specifics I remembered nearly a half-century later.
Then today (08/29/13) I received a package in the mail containing an original ticket and a school newspaper clip (“victory with honor” was Poly’s motto). If you click on the latter image to get higher resolution, you can more clearly see me on the far right holding my leather-holstered Frederick Post Versatrig 1450 slide rule, ready to whip out at the first physics problem set that I might spot on the horizon. A very different image from the me who in the previous year had the male lead in Berkeley Square – bona fide nerd rather than aspiring actor!
I also don’t remember the 16 volume set of American Heritage magazines being presented to Mr. Taylor, our beloved principal. As the Chinese proverb goes, “The palest ink is sharper than the best memory!” That holds even though all four team members had to have above-averge memories!
Update to news clip: Because Poly’s team did not score high enough in its victory over LA High – despite the apparent fact that the latter is said to have lost 4 points in the last 30 seconds – we were not invited back to the semi-finals. So December 4th was the beginning and the end of its Scholarquiz career. That much I remember quite well. Not only was it disappointing, but who knows what nerdy prizes we all missed out on! An encyclopedia anyone?
P.S.: A day after the package arrived I also heard from Professor Boslin, who noted that he had to come up with 150-200 questions per show while serving full-time as an assistant professor at USC! One of his questions has always been embedded in my brain: A bonus photo identification – a picture of Samuel Gompers. I recall it so well because it was probably the only question I answered correctly during the entire quiz (always having a slow reaction time). Although my memory may be biased, I’m pretty sure it was that answer that broke the tie and sent Poly off to a dramatic victory – with honor no less!