IN 1954, WHEN REDDY FINNEY returned to Gilman, I was a freshman there. We were called, widely, "Gilman Fairies." It was like an official nickname, familiar and complete, like Iowa Hawkeyes or Detroit Tigers. Gilman Fairies. It wasn't a homosexual slur, you understand. Fairies then was more like wimps today, or nerds or pantywaists at other times.
It didn't bother me all that much. I just figured that was the kind of slanderous price you had to pay for being the subject of envy. There was simply no doubt in my mind that I was going to the best school and getting the best education. Also, to be fair, a lot of us at Gilman really were pretty soft. I couldn't deny that; we'd been born with the most advantages.
Probably, if it was possible, Gilman had been even more elite when Reddy had gone there a decade before. We were Society, drawn from a very narrow spectrum of Baltimore. Of course, there were no blacks or Asians, and the first couple of Jews didn't come in till the '50s. For spectacular diversity, each class boasted a handful of Roman Catholics, who got their own religious instruction trucked in once a week lest they fall prey to the subversive Protestantism all around. Such was our rainbow coalition, '50s style.