Ghostwriting in the Family by
(308 Stories)

Prompted By Rites of Passage

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Ghostwriting in the Family 

When I was in high school I don’t remember anyone making a big fuss over college admissions.  In fact what I remember most about senior year was shopping for my college wardrobe with my mother,  walking around Greenwich Village with my friends,  and slow dancing to 50s rock ‘n’ roll in friends’ houses when their parents weren’t  home.   And I certainly don’t remember writing my college essay,  because in fact my father wrote it for me.

I don’t remember why he did,  I guess I was too busy trying on clothes at Loehmann’s,  wandering around the Village,  or dancing to the Platters.

My dad went to NYU Heights and loved it,  and he was sure I would too,   and so he sat down one night and wrote my essay.   I think the gist of the essay was,  “My dad went to NYU Heights and loved it,  and I’m sure I will too.”

Well,  it must have done the trick because I got in,  and of course I did love it,  and not for a minute did I feel guilty about that ghost-written essay.

In 1973,  nine years after I graduated,  New York University closed its arts and engineering schools at the Heights and sold the buildings and grounds to CUNY.   And so my old alma mater became the new leafy campus of Bronx Community College.

I guess some things must change.

Years later when my son was too busy studying his Torah portion,   my husband sat down one night and ghost-wrote the kid’s bar mitzvah speech.

I guess some things never change.

– Dana Susan Lehrman

Profile photo of Dana Susan Lehrman Dana Susan Lehrman
This retired librarian loves big city bustle and cozy country weekends, friends and family, good books and theatre, movies and jazz, travel, tennis, Yankee baseball, and writing about life as she sees it on her blog World Thru Brown Eyes!

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Tags: Family, College Admissions, Bar Mitzvahs
Characterizations: funny, right on!


  1. Laurie Levy says:

    Love the pictures, Dana. The bar mitzvah is the ultimate rite of passage for Jews, although the college essay is also a great idea for a story. Made me remember mine and my kids’ essays, but that’s another story.

  2. Suzy says:

    Ha ha, Dana, I love your honesty. I too may have done a bit of ghostwriting in my time, but would never admit it. Thanks for sharing yours.

    • Thanx Suzy, I won’t tell if you won’t tell.

      Actually I wrote this story several years ago and it was published in the NYTimes’ weekly feature Metropolitan Diary.

      I’ve submitted MANY other stories to the Times that they foolishly did NOT publish, but this one goes on my WOE!

  3. Marian says:

    The transition from high school to college is a big passage, Dana. Interesting that your dad wrote the essay. Mine would never have done that, but he went to engineering school and I was going to study liberal arts, so that would have been difficult. You’re absolutely right, though, about college admissions not being nearly the big deal that they are now. I remember them being competitive, but nothing like the angst that my friends went through when their kids were trying to get in. You’d think there were only about 10 colleges in the entire world!

  4. That picture of you and your husband kissing your son … definitely worth a thousand words!

  5. Betsy Pfau says:

    Love the story and the photos (wouldn’t have noticed the chocolate cake smear if you hadn’t pointed it out).

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