One reason that Mr. Carson’s stories are difficult to check is that he navigated the turbulent times of his young adulthood without leaving much of a trace. He arrived as a scholarship student at Yale University in 1969 to a campus engulfed in protests but said he avoided them.
“A lot of those students who were doing the protesting were also students who were involved in a lot of things that I didn’t believe in,” he told the Journal. “Drugs, premarital sex, free love, alcohol. And it just wasn’t the crowd that I particularly wanted to get involved with.”
Mr. Carson was assigned to Davenport College, a four-story brick dormitory with a gothic facade where future Baltimore Mayor Kurt Schmoke invited anti-war speakers. Yet, when other students discussed politics and their changing world over meals in the cafeteria, Mr. Carson rarely spoke up, according to interviews with more than 50 Davenport College dorm residents of that era.
“He made no impression on you at all, other than a cheerful smile and a ‘Hello,’” said Ron Taylor, one of seven black students in the Davenport class of 1973.
Those acquainted with Mr. Carson said he was a serious student, typically wearing a pocket protector and toting a reddish-brown briefcase.
“He would go to bed at like 9 p.m. and get up at 4 a.m. or 5 a.m. and put on a suit, a tie and a jacket and a button-down shirt and study in the early morning,” said Thomas Noonan, an actor and Mr. Carson’s roommate their sophomore year.