SAD TODAY AFTER learning my favorite college prof, Dr. Michael Petrick of Central Michigan University, recently passed away.
Dr. Petrick taught a journalism reporting class, but he did it in an unorthodox method. He invented a town, Lakeside, and he used his students as the inspiration for the cast of residents and characters. You knew he liked you if he gave you a nickname and used it in the class. He also tormented students he didn't like with the same tactic, often with hilarious results.
My nickname was Dirk Whitey, and I was a pinball arcade attendant. Why? I have no idea. That's just what he decided to do. Dr. Petrick would assume identities of the different people in Lakeside, and we would "interview" him and write stories.
At the time I thought he was a bit nuts, until I got out into the real world and realized he wasn't crazy, he was a genius. For all the weird people he invented and made us interview, well, he was just scratching the surface.
Because You Can't Make It Up.
Dr. Petrick was also famous for participating in "sports writing seminars" and celebrating "St. Petrick's Day," though my memories of those occasions are a bit foggy, likely because they were so long ago. Ahem.
He was a legend at Central and the crew I ran with back then remembers him fondly.