1951 - 2007
Tribute from Derrick Garbell
May 9, 2007
I first met Ed Carroll under tense circumstances. Well, tense for me, but for him, just another leisurely stroll across the UCLA campus.
It was the day of my first midterm, in my first quarter, my first year of college, and I was uptight. If the Bulging Neck Tendon Olympics had been held that morning I would have stood atop the podium, while Little Richard and Bruce Springsteen were further down gazing admiringly at my Gold Medal.
A few months prior I had fallen through a glass door and severely injured my right, writing hand. The accident had destroyed the tendons and nerves, and I had minimal use of only my index finger at that point. I planned to use a portable typewriter on the exam, and was unsure how the professor would react.
I was scurrying across campus with my briefcase in one hand and the Olivetti in the other, anxious to arrive at the lecture hall and set up as early as possible. I had to traverse the entire campus, from Westwood Village's Weyburn Avenue, to Dickson Hall, almost to Sunset Boulevard. As I coursed along, tilted forward against an imaginary headwind of my own making, I barely noticed the guy I had just breezed past.
"Hey, neighbor," came a voice.
It didn't really register the second time, either: "Uh, neighbor."
Then I heard, "Hey, you with the two briefcases!"
I stopped and turned and recognized this guy who I'd seen over the past several weeks in the cafeteria and elevator since taking residence at my new dorm, Weyburn Hall. He was puffing a cig, and seemed to be enjoying the landscaping between Powell Library and Kinsey Hall. It was indeed a nice spot. I was struck by how this guy was taking it in, while I was hunched and hurrying, oblivious to the fine morning air and venerable Bruin landscaping.
"Quite the student, aren't we?" he laughed, nodding to my double-handed load.
I explained my imminent exam, but what I recall so well was what went unspoken:
"We're neighbors, let's walk together to the next bend."
And so we did.
The unabashed, simple friendliness of this guy relaxed me despite myself.
He asked me where I came from, and when he told me he hailed from a Catholic high school, the topic arose of our both having been altar boys. There was a silent pause, and with the Greeks of my looming art history test swirling in the back of my mind, I looked at him and began reciting the rote Latin of the prayer of confession that begins the Roman Catholic Mass: the "Confiteor."
Before I could mutter "omnipotenti ," he had instinctively chimed in and we spoke the first stanza in bemused unison:
He trailed off and with my altar boy days dimly behind me, I suddenly veered unintentionally and unaccompanied into the Lord's Prayer:
I stopped abruptly as I realized my detour, and he chuckled: "Your Latin's a bit rusty."
With a nervous eye to my midterm I replied: "Yeah, and I don't know dick about the Greeks, either."
At that point our walks diverged and we swapped "See ya laters." I headed to the foyer of the Dickson auditorium, and he towards Melnitz.
I realized we hadn't even exchanged names, but I sensed I'd surely made a new friend. I soon visited Ed on Weyburn's 8th floor, the home of Hydra, where I met Francisco Moreno, Niall White, Maxine Mahoney, Barney McNamara and Jeff Marder, also to become life-long friends.
And I swear it had nothing to do with carbonated beverages or the smoldering incense that were in abundance in those Hydran dorm rooms.
Ed's relaxed magnetism was contagious, and without much prodding I soon adopted more of a "stop and smell the roses" policy that sustained me through the proverbial pressures of the college career.
For the rest of my tenure at UCLA I carried a frisbee in my briefcase, and Ed inevitably was handy to share that simple pastime at Royce Quad, not far from where he had first addressed me as, "Hey you with the two briefcases!"
Around Ed, I always felt 100% free to be myself.
It remains his friendship's most fragrant gift.