Back to Erie and College

I received me honorable discharge gave me a ticket for an airline flight back to Erie. I was planning on going back to Erie a lot earlier than I actually did, I was introduced to a young lady who needed some pictures taken for her model portfolio.

I wound up staying with her for six months and then I got homesick for Erie Pennsylvania, I said goodbye to everybody and got on a plane and headed back to Erie. By the time I got to Erie they had shipped all my all my stuff home, they put this crate on the boat evidently or I don’t know how they got it to me but it was waiting there when I got home and in there was all my Navy stuff and stuff that I had acquired including a bunch of Chris Noel records, a whole bunch of 16 millimeter movies that we weren’t going to use anymore.  16-millimeter film prints of Shindig and Star Trek and Mission Impossible and a bunch of others.

I was now trying to figure out what am I going to do with my life I’m out of the Navy. At thar time in the early 70s, there’s this thing called the GI Bill. The government gave you money earned while serving. I had enough money to go to a regular college for four years but decided I was going to go to Mercyhurst College now it’s called Mercyhurst University, it is a catholic college and it was so maybe 10 blocks from my house so it was fairly close and I was going to get a degree in communication. Well, I had a lot of communication experience you know photography and radio and television, so I had all kinds of experience. They basically had a communication class of courses, but they weren’t really you know communication like radio and television, they were like your rhetoric and philosophy and all this other stuff.  

I would later find out that I only had enough money for 2 years of a 4-year degree program. You can use the GI Bill as long as you had money in it. I started going to classes and of course I was the old guy. Most kids were 18 19, I was 21 and everybody else was like 18 but I was the old guy and started taking all these classes and they were taught by nuns and priests, or a couple lay people. I forgot how they found me, but they had an answering machine, you couldn’t leave a message but it would play a message so you could call this number and it would give you a message.  Well, they found out that oh you know why we don’t pay this student a couple bucks and he can record our daily announcements, you know what’s coming up classes are being offered what’s on the menu in the cafeteria. So I that was one of my jobs doing daily recording and I had to be there you had to actually go physically be there and record the the announcements.

I wanted to start a radio station so we could actually broadcast and teach radio,  of course I couldn’t teach it because I was just a student, freshman so to speak. I actually built a station what was called carrier current stations, which was a little transmitter that would hook into your electrical system and as long as you had your radio near an electrical outlet you could hear the radio station.  It wasn’t the most efficient way of broadcasting, but it was a way without having an actual an actual radio station. 

I’m going to this Mercyhurst, living at my parents’ house and my mother said you know there’s a there’s a girl from this city New Kensington who is going to Mercyhurst. The reason for the connection is I had an aunt who was a nun and was teaching these people down in New Kensington. So my mother encouraged me to go visit her, I showed up at the dorm,

I was also working on a radio station WRIE at the time, I didn’t go back to my job at WJET, I wanted to, but after four years they don’t have to hold the job for you.  Since there was no position for me to take at WJET, I did get a position at WRIE, it wasn’t rock and roll radio it was more like middle of the road,  you know Ray Charles Singers,  Sinatra, the Letterman, that that type music. (WRIE studio pictured at left)

I was using the name Denny Stevens because they didn’t like ethnic names, so when I went to this desk at the girls dorm and said I wanted to see this Fran Portka and she wasn’t there as she was in class or something so I left my name and I left Denny Stevens and I said I’ll be back, we didn’t have cell phones back in those days so I said I’ll come back at night.

I came back then that night  and of course I find out later that all of all her girls and girlfriends were at the window trying to see who this Denny Stevens was because she had no idea I was Denny Woytek, she would have known that name. She came down from her room with three of her girlfriends as bodyguards just in case I was a stalker, we met and when I said my name was Denny Woytek and it all came together. I had to drive a commercial from the radio station to another and asked her would you want to come with me, she said yes.

She sat close to the window on her side, we drove out to this radio station that happened to me in the middle of a cabbage patch in Waterfront Pennsylvania WMDI, I dropped tape off and said you want to go see a movie and we went to a drive-in and that became the beginning of our of our friendship and eventually we would get married.

After two years I ran out of GI bill money and I’m not sure what I’m going to do now because I really couldn’t afford to go to school on my own. I wasn’t making enough money at the radio station, I was helping at the public broadcasting station too at the same time.  

I had an offer from the night man at WRIE, he says I’m going up to the upper peninsula of Michigan at a place called Saint Ignace, would you like to come up and be my morning man and program and music director? I say yes, it’s going to pay me a regular salary and I forgot what it was at the time but it was a lot more than I was making working a couple part-time jobs

. I told my girlfriend at the time, we had become engaged at the same time. I told her we’re not getting married until you graduate from college, so she had one year to go, she was in her junior year. She stayed in Erie while I went up to Michigan.

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