late-night 'visit.' At a minimum, nonjocks were not part of the inner circle,"
Mr. Mayerstein recalled. He said himself was a jock. Mr. Romney was not
considered a jock.
Mr. Mayerstein also said "there were kids there who looked down on you if you weren't a WASP [white Anglo-Saxon Protestant]." He said a Chinese student and the one black student at Cranbrook during his time there, as well as himself, as a Jew, "made up for our racial and religious difference by being jocks."
But racial and ethnic slurs were frequent, he said.
"Kids, especially boarding-school kids, do things that sometimes border on pure meanness. Every one of the people in the Washington Post article, and I include myself with this group, did some pretty awful things," said Mr. Mayerstein.
But he was critical of people pointing a finger of shame at those high school shenanigans.
"If a 50-year-old high school prank is more important than the financial or moral state of this country, we are in much worse trouble than anyone has imagined," Mr. Mayerstein said.
Pete "Bird" Werbel, who played soccer at Cranbrook and went on to play soccer at the University of Denver, said he struggled to keep up with some other students in classwork.
"I didn't think there was [bullying] above and beyond what you would see in any normal situation. I pretty much thought you were accepted or rejected for who you were -- your personality, your traits, what you contributed in any way, shape, manner, or form that you did," Mr. Werbel said.
He recalled that Mr. Romney, though not an athlete, ran cross country, earning his admiration for pushing himself hard, though he didn't finish the race.
"He ran well enough to be on the varsity. He came into the stadium, which was at football half-time, and collapsed 100 yards from the finish line -- fell face-first in the dirt. I think somebody tried to help him to the finish line, so he was disqualified," Mr. Werbel said. "I always admired that -- [he] went really hard."
Mr. Werbel, an entrepreneur in Squaw Valley, Calif., said he's not a Republican but said, "I do believe that if he were to become President, he would try his darndest to get this country back into some reasonable fiscal shape."
He said he didn't remember the victim in the reported incident, John Lauber, and didn't believe his reported homosexuality was the reason for the attack.
Romney classmate Mr. French recalled Mr. Romney as "a very stand-up person."
"We all played pranks on each other, I mean good-natured. I don't remember anything ever being malicious," Mr. French said. He was a day student, but said he and other day students spent plenty of time in the dorms, and he said he never previously heard the Lauber story.
Mary Lou Zieve, a broadcasting personality in Detroit, graduated from Kingswood, the girls' school, 60 years ago. She was friends with Mr. Romney's eldest sister, Lynn.
"As far as what Mitt did, it's entirely possible," Ms. Zieve said. "I can see guys laughing and giggling and doing something stupid. In all fairness if he did I don't think it was done with any violence in mind."
She recalled Mr. Romney's mother, Lenore, and father, George, as kind to her, as a frequent visitor to their home. She said the elder Mr. Romney was friends with her father and believes he helped get her into the school.
"George was a nicer person than what I'm seeing from Mitt," said Ms. Zieve, who has more liberal political views than Mr. Romney currently espouses.
She said he got involved in lots of activities to live up to the reputations of his older siblings.
"There was lots of pressure on him to produce, and to be the hit of the crowd. He was very good-looking. He never had an ugly day," Ms. Zieve said.
"I don't think it reflects on who he is today. I don't really give a crap what he did in high school. I'm more interested in what did he do 10 years ago," she said. "What is he going to do on women's issues, contraception, and what about a woman's right to her body? These are things we want to know. I think he's been a very good husband and father from what I can see, and I think he had a helluva set of parents from whom to learn."
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