“It was fun to do. We probably spent an hour or two, I don’t really recall. I made five bucks, and that was my professional modeling career.”
Bob was raised in New York city, the son of working class immigrants.
There were five of us living in a one-bedroom apartment, so it was a little close – but that was all I knew. Actually, I felt privileged in a lot of ways because my building had an elevator. One of my good friends living next- door had a five-story walkup.
At the age of 13, Bob got his first job. He was an “office boy” at the same shoe store where his father worked. His father would occasionally take him out to lunch in the summers.
He would introduce me to people he knew, and some of them would say, ‘Oh, what a nice looking boy.’ And my father always went onto another subject.
Bob’s parents discouraged conceit in the three boys.
Essentially what he and my mother drilled into us was people who make their living on their basis of looks run the risk of looks changing, because we all change, and not always for the better. And, making it in the long run based on what’s inside of your head instead of what’s in front of it is gonna be a much more rewarding and a solid basis. So, my parents deemphasized appearance.
Still, all of those compliments gave Bob an idea – perhaps, just perhaps, he might have a career in professional modeling.
When I was either in the 8th or 9th grade I decided, for some reason, maybe I could become a model. And being in New York City, there are a lot of modeling agencies. I picked one out of the phonebook and took the subway to this place. I had a jacket and tie on – I was all set. But when I got there I was immediately told that because I was underage I needed to have a parent with me. So, that was the end of my modeling career.
Years later, by chance, Bob was recruited to model for the record album cover of Dicky Do and the Don’ts, on display here. Bob is in the background, in a brown collared shirt.
I was pledging for a fraternity. One of the other guys – the guy in the center here with the professional model, he was going with this girl whose uncle was a photographer. And the uncle had a job to film this album cover. So he asked his niece to get a couple of friends together. She got her boyfriend, and he got two of us.
Bob recalls the awkwardness of this first, and last, modeling shoot.
I remember feeling very stiff, and I believe that it shows clearly in the picture. We had to strike a pose. So, she’s stiff, and I’m stiff. I remember feeling very awkward, and very self-conscious of that.
In the end, Bob ended up following the path laid out by his parents – they had stressed the importance of education over physical appearance, and Bob went on to earn his PhD and to have an illustrious career as a university professor.
I had the opportunity to do modeling, and it was fine, and then I went about my business with everything that would bring me to my career at CSUSB. I don't regret not going into modeling, because it’s a short-lived career. I’ve been at CSUSB for nearly 50 years. There’s probably an element of nostalgic vanity to keeping the album, because I’m a far way from being 18 years old!