Steve Waksman (left) and Alan Schoenberg in 1970
Schoenberg (left) and Waksman in Oregon in 2012
Schoenberg (left) and Waksman in Oregon in 2012

Right after their June 1970 graduation, friends Alan Schoenberg and Steven Waksman, who met at Baruch, motored cross-country in a “driveaway” car—a vehicle that ultimately needed to be delivered to Alaska. “We took it to Seattle and handed it over,” remembers Schoenberg. “They paid for the gas, so it worked out for both sides.” The duo’s destination was Oregon, where Schoenberg’s brother lived. Says Schoenberg of Waksman, “He was a photographer, took a lot of photos and developed his own film—you had to in those days.”

En route they drove along the scenic Avenue of the Giants in northern California’s picturesque Humboldt Redwoods State Park. To their surprise, they came upon a carved wooden bench, its plaque inscribed “DEDICATED TO BERNARD M. BARUCH: PHILOSOPHER, PHILANTHROPIST, STALWART AMERICAN, ON HIS 82nd BIRTHDAY, AUGUST 19, 1952. HIS STATURE IS THAT OF THESE REDWOODS.”

“We didn’t know it was there until we saw it,” says Schoenberg. “We’d just graduated from Baruch College, so it was pretty mind-boggling.”

(“I have sat upon many benches,” said Baruch at the 1952 dedication ceremony, which was attended by California Governor Earl Warren [later chief justice of the Supreme Court]. “But never one in a setting such a this.”)

After spending the summer out west, Waksman flew back East but returned to Oregon the next year, where he settled permanently, eventually becoming a child psychologist (he still practices today). Schoenberg initially stayed in Oregon to attend Portland State University but returned to Brooklyn to run his family’s salt business.

Waksman returned to visit the redwoods bench this past summer. Schoenberg, who is retired from the salt business and works in real estate, lives in Brooklyn and Long Island and owns a home in Oregon. Though Schoenberg visits his Baruch College buddy every year, he could not make the recent bench trip.

—Marina Zogbi