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Story 02: Education of a Dropout

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Sidebar: Son of Spock

Written by Mike Spock

Having Dr. Spock as your father created wonderful and terrible opportunities, especially for a kid not sure about himself and especially at adolescence. When I was growing up, my father was struggling to establish his practice in New York City during the Depression. Nobody knew anything about Dr. Spock. When he was working on writing the book with my mother in the early '40s, he still wasn't famous. The book came out while I was in high school. There wasn't a lot of media about anything at that time. It appeared quietly. But by the time I went to college, everybody knew about Baby and Child Care and Dr. Spock. At this point I was trying to establish independent identity. My father was famous, he was recognized as a great writer, and I certainly didn't think of myself as a great writer. People were intensely curious about two things: what was it like to be the son of Dr. Spock, and how did the son turn out? I was still having trouble reading, struggling to finish college, find jobs. If you looked at me in my mid-'20s, you would say "This is a troubled person who's unlikely to make anything out of himself." In the 1950s, people didn't drop out of college, and if they did, they went to work as I did. Other people were either scandalized or took hidden pleasure in the fact that I wasn't the greatest example in Spock's teaching. For the next two decades when I would give a credit card to a clerk they would look at it and say, "Oh, any relation?" And I was faced with not answering anything, pretending I didn't hear the question, or saying yes.

A happy thing happened with the introduction of "Star Trek" on TV and the character Mr. Spock. All of a sudden when somebody would look at the name on the credit card, Michael Spock, they would say "Oh, have you got pointed ears?" Or "Give me the hand signal" or all that kind of stuff. It was terrific. By that time I was beginning to feel some confidence in myself. I had a life, my own family and a real job when I ended up at The Children's Museum after bopping around jobs and dropping out of school and every-thing else. I was the director of The Children's Museum for 23 years. So that all went away and I could admit to my heritage and be myself.

–Excerpted from an interview, January 2006

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