60 years ago, a brainy
Bucknell team made the leap
to national TV
by George Spencer
Professor Douglas Candland coaching Robert Pringle ’65, Carl Minnier ’63, Richard Bochinski ’64 and John Polk ’65
Photo: Special Collections/University Archives
The team: From left: Professor Douglas Candland coached Robert Pringle ’65, Carl Minnier ’63, Richard Bochinski ’64 and John Polk ’65. Their practice sessions lasted three months.
six months before The Beatles released “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” a different fab four faced the bright lights of national TV on the College Bowl. As in the Peyton Manning-hosted revival that debuted on NBC last summer, the quiz show’s inquisitor peppered teams of clean-cut scholars with brain-bending questions on everything from astronomy to zoology. In the 1960s, millions watched the CBS program broadcast live in black and white on Sundays at 5:30 p.m.

On June 9, 1963, Bucknell matched wits with the defending champs from Temple University. The team of captain Robert Pringle ’65, Richard Bochinski ’64, Carl Minnier ’63 and John Polk ’65 had knuckled down double hard to prepare. During more than three months of Saturday-afternoon practice sessions in Room 101B in Coleman Hall, they (and alternates Herb Asher ’66 and Sally Carleton Barucchieri ’65) bested 80 other Bucknell undergrads to win seats on the squad.

Faculty adviser Douglas Candland had a light touch. “We let students winnow themselves out,” he recalls. “In a strange way, the final team was selected by those who continued to participate.” Candland, who retired in 2002 as professor of psychology emeritus, thinks his expertise in mental matters gave him only limited insight into TV game theory. “I’m not that kind of psychologist,” says the founder of Bucknell’s Animal Behavior Program. “I studied monkeys.”

The Bucknellian writes that another adviser, Professor Owen Anderson, physics, built “a table and buzzer system exactly like the one in the original show [so that participants would be] instructed on the use of the buzzer mechanism even to the extent of learning that the buzzer must be depressed three-eighths of an inch in order to be activated.”

Barucchieri remembers the practice sessions as fun and games. “One question was, ‘What muscle is the hardest working muscle in the body?’ I replied, ‘The heart,’ because it was just obvious. I saw surprised looks on the faces of some of the boys. I’m sure other kids knew the answer, but I managed to buzz in first.”

More men than women sought spots on the team. “We noticed during tryouts that men would be aggressive and be wrong more often,” Candland says. “Women took a much longer time to decide on an answer. They would be right more often, but by that time it was over. I don’t think it occurred to us that we needed to worry about gender equality.”

After the broadcast, Barbara Jacobsen ’62 wrote President Merle Odgers H’64 to chastise him about the team’s lack of female members: “I am curious as to why no women were on the team … I note that of the 23 graduates cited as summa cum laude, magna cum laude, or cum laude in June 1962, 15 were women.”

No aura of celebrity followed the foursome on campus. “Nerds weren’t important then,” recalls Pringle, a retired foreign- policy expert and professor. “I’m not putting us down. This was 1963. It was pre-Vietnam and pre- a lot of things,” Pringle says.

The weekend of the show, CBS flew the team to LaGuardia from Williamsport on Allegheny Airlines. The network booked each student a single room at the Waldorf Astoria and arranged box seats to the musical comedy A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.

On the big day, the teams first faced off for three practice rounds at CBS Studio 52 at 254 West 54th St. The show’s staff had no interest in their answers, Candland says. They told students not to cover their mouths when they spoke and explained how to press the buzzer. “What the staff was doing was simply shaping primate behavior,” he says.

For the first two practice rounds, Bucknell did well. During the third, “they just went dead,” Candland says. “I don’t know how to account for it.”

Then it was showtime. The lights went up. The announcer welcomed the nationwide audience, declaring “College Bowl brought to you by the General Electric Company, maker of world-famous portable home appliances plus health, beauty and floor-care products!”

We were privileged to meet four men who embodied intelligence, friendliness and sportsmanship. Perhaps we’ll meet at the next Temple–Bucknell football game, which, I understand, you have a knack for winning.
Purely by luck, of course.”
Leonard Goldstein, Temple University contestant
“Teams, you’re both familiar with the rules, right?” asked host Robert Earle. “Are you ready, Bucknell?”

“Ready!” shouted the Bucknell four.

“All set, Temple?”

“Yes, sir!” roared the Philly quartet of three men and one woman.

“Very well! There’s the whistle to start our game. You’re playing for a 20-point bonus question. Here’s your first tossup: Hired guns are said to have once controlled parts of the West. What kind of gun ruled Japan from …”

Temple player Leonard Goldstein hit the buzzer.

“Temple — Goldstein,” Earle said.


“Shogun is right!”

Goldstein would be heard many times as the game unfolded. “He took off like a rocket,” recalls Bochinski, a retired teacher.

The 30 questions lobbed during the first half ranged from queries about Socrates, Sir Walter Scott, plutonium and Finnegans Wake to puzzlers about palindromes, Hector, Judah Maccabee, Godfrey of Bouillon, The Taming of the Shrew and the English Channel. When the whistle ended the half, the score was Temple 165, Bucknell minus 10. (Points were deducted for incorrect responses.)

“We calmed down” during the second half, recalls Bochinski, whose girlfriend, Pamela Morrison ’63, was in the audience.

Now questions came at the teams as fast as Mercury spacecraft. “Name the four American space capsules that have made manned orbital flights,” Earle said. Neither team knew the answer — Faith 7, Sigma 7, Aurora 7 and Friendship 7.

“With what geometrical solid do you associate these men …”

Gambling that he could guess right, Bochinski slapped the buzzer.

“A cube!”

“A cube. They were all cubists. All right, Bucknell!” Earle said. “For 10 points, tell me what man meant it when he wired, “ ‘I will not accept …’ ”

“Bucknell — Pringle.”

“Sherman,” Pringle said, referring to William Tecumseh Sherman’s refusal to accept a presidential nomination.

Bucknell rallied with one more correct answer. Then the game ended. The comeback was too little, too late. The final score: Temple 310, Bucknell 70.

“The game is a painful memory,” Polk says. “I couldn’t get that buzzer down fast enough. I was swinging behind the pitch by just a little bit.”

The next day, Temple’s Goldstein hand-wrote a letter to his opponents. “Scoring is mostly a matter of luck. … You could have won just as easily as we. We were privileged to meet four men who embodied intelligence, friendliness and sportsmanship. Perhaps we’ll meet at the next Temple–Bucknell football game, which, I understand, you have a knack for winning. Purely by luck, of course.”

Before flying home, Candland treated the team to a steak dinner. On campus “there was dead silence” about the loss, he says. “I remember one faculty member said, ‘The kind of intelligence that program tests isn’t the kind of intelligence I want to teach my students. I want my students to think in-depth.’ ”

After graduation, Polk and Pringle served in Vietnam. They returned to campus a few years ago to talk to a history seminar — not about the College Bowl, but about their time in Vietnam. Minnier, who taught college chemistry, died in 2016.

Looking back, Bochinski has mixed feelings about the College Bowl. “I wish we had done better for Bucknell, because I loved my experience at the school,” he says. Something good did come of the weekend. He got to see Pamela in New York. They wed the next year.

“We’re still married 57 years later,” he says. “So that worked out.”

Test Your Knowledge

From element 94 to H.C. Earwicker, how many answers do you know?
Bucknell’s fearsome foursome took on the Temple team — defending champs in the College Bowl program on CBS — on June 9, 1963. How many of these questions can you get right?

Q: Four Secretaries of State won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1912, 1929, 1945, and 1953. Name these four men.

A: George C. Marshall, Cordell Hull, Frank Billings Kellogg, and Elihu Root

Q: The longest mountain chain in the world is not in North American, South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, or Australia. Where is it?

A: In the Atlantic Ocean

Q: What groom [in literature] was intentionally late to his own wedding and dressed in a new hat and an old jerkin, a pair of old britches, and a pair of boots—one buckled, another laced?

A: Petruchio in The Taming of the Shrew

Q: Would you be going upstream or downstream if you traveled from Luxor to Cairo; Montreal to Quebec; Belgrade to Budapest; and Memphis to Vicksburg?

A: Downstream; downstream; upstream; downstream

Q: What 20th-century novel deals with the dreams and nightmares of H.C. Earwicker?

A: Finnegans Wake

Q: Name the four American space capsules [as of June 1963] that have made manned orbital flights?

A: Faith Seven, Sigma Seven, Aurora Seven, and Friendship Seven

Q: What planet is element 94 named for?

A: Plutonium

Q: Element 97 is named for what city?

A: Berkeley

Q: Element 101 is named after what man who developed the periodic table of the elements?

A: Mendeleev

Q: Supply the palindrome for each of the following definitions:

  • A word that frequently follows 12 o’clock.
  • A long, light ship build for sails or oars.
  • The Latin for “Behold!”
  • The last word in the title of a Broadway music that starred Ethel Merman.
    Madam (Call Me Madam)
  • The Old Testament mother of Samuel.

Q: Name the psychologist who contributed these words to psychological terminology: Complex, archetype, introversion.

A: Jung

Q: With politicians as with girls, a “No” does not always mean “No.” What man meant it when he wired “I will not accept if nominated and will not serve if elected?”

A: General William Tecumseh Sherman

Q: In geologic timescale, an era is divided into periods. Into what are periods divided?

A: Epochs

Q: On display in the Cloisters in Upper Manhattan is a tapestry woven in the 14th century. The tapestry depicts three Jewish heroes, three pagan heroes, and two Christian heroes. Identify three of these heroes from short verbal descriptions of their lives. First, a pagan hero — he was a great warrior, a brother of Paris and consort of Andromeda.

A: Hector.

A: Now a Hebrew hero. He was born in a Jewish family in first or second century BC and defeated an Assyrian army.

Q: Judah Maccabee.

Q: A Christian hero — he was the leader of the first Crusade, the duke of Lorraine and the principal character is Parsifal’s epic poem.

A: Godfrey of Bouillon.

Q: In what play does an old woman named Maurya lose the last of her six sons to the sea?

A: Riders to the Sea

Q: Which 19th-century painter took his subjects from Dante, Shakespeare, Byron, the history of the Crusades and classical Greek and Roman myths? One of those famous paintings is The Massacre at Chios.

A: Delacroix.

Q: Henry James tried to be a dramatist and failed miserably, but many of his stories have been turned into highly successful plays by other people. Name the play suggested by a fragment of a novel reportedly found among his papers about a young historian who’s hurled to another century and fears he may never get back.

A: Berkeley Square.

Q: Name the James novel that was the basis of the 1947 play entitled The Heiress.

A: Washington Square

Q: Name the story dramatized as The Innocent.

A: The Turn of the Screw.

Q: Name the Henry James tale about a girl up in Schenectady who goes to Rome, which is the basis for a new Off-Broadway production.

A: Daisy Miller. The play is the The Summer of Daisy Miller.

Q: A Secretary of State was the subject of a song “I made a fool of myself over John Foster Dulles.” What Congressman from Tennessee was the subject of this song …“Born’d on a mountaintop in Tennessee …”

A: Davy Crockett