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16	 ro be rt jensen

 areas as carpentry, foundry, welding and electric shop but also for its
 college preparatory course if you chose that path. I took the college
 prep course with no idea of where or how I would go to college. What
 I did know was that when I went to high school everything changed.
 Just walking through the doors of Lane Tech I felt a sense of relief and
 independence and I knew somehow that I was going to do well. I hit
 the ground running. The first year I didn’t even think about football
 or extra curricular activities and instead concentrated on getting good
 grades because I had made a commitment to myself that I would be-
 come somebody.

 I received straight A’s in every course in every marking period except
 one, when I got a B + in Geometry. I went to the teacher, Mrs. Hoff-
 man, and asked for an explanation. I reminded her that I had received
 an A on every test and I had answered every question, so what did I
 do wrong? “Nothing,” she smiled, “I just don’t give A’s.” And that was
 that.

 Despite my best efforts to do well in school, my father wasn’t one to
 praise me for my grades.

 He and my mother just assumed Nels and I would do well in school. In
 fact, my father never once in four years signed my report card. When I
 brought it home and showed it to him, he would shake his head and say,
 “You can do better,” and then hand it to my mother to sign. To this day
 I don’t know how I could have done better than all A’s.

 Growing up I worked at understanding my father, as our relationship
 felt like a psychological war between us. It was clear to me that it was
 Nels whom he favored, and it didn’t take much insight to understand
 why. Nels and I were quite different physically; he was medium height,
 blond and blue eyed and had the Danish looks. I was tall with dark hair
 and looked more like my mother’s German side of the family. Later I
 came to believe that his attitude toward me had everything to do with
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