Besides the Walter Pulliam incident (last installment), and the resulting promise to myself to “never forget,” there were a couple of other things that motivated me to move on up the academic ladder, an area I knew entirely nothing about, and frankly made me very nervous.
One was First Lieutenant Summers, at Sewart, who once bragged to a bus load of us about his education and, basically, why we were subordinate to him. The comment instantly pushed me over the edge, (a temper I have since learned to control) and without fear of consequences, I blurted out “You just got there first! I’ll get my education after this crap is off my back. Just you wait and see!”
The other thing that motivated me was having to live with my in-laws! I wanted more and I wanted it as fast as possible.
Like I stated earlier, it had been five years since I had been to school, and probably that long since I had read a book! I suppose that was the reason I lacked 0.2 of a point in passing the SATs. Luckily, I was allowed to enter the University of Tennessee's College of Communications winter quarter of 1969 under “probation,” which meant I had to pass with a 3.0 (out of a possible 4) that first quarter.
Somehow, I made it past the first quarter, but I did not make it easy on myself.
First of all, some of you may remember that getting classes used to mean you had to “pull cards!” The cards were computer “punch cards” that were imprinted with specific classes scheduled at specific times. Today, computers automatically generate class schedules, and no one ever gets to enjoy a hot gymnasium with thousands of students pushing and shoving in long lines to get the perfect schedule!
I ended up with classes scheduled at 7:50 in the morning, and maybe nothing until 1 or 2 PM! This meant I had to wait hours between classes either in the library or in my hot car in a parking lot!
The only problem I could not overcome was my senior year when group projects for final presentations were necessary. This meant I would attend class all day, and then have to go to some off-campus apartment, or house, to work on the team projects. People who lived on or near campus generally wanted to party a little then work.
You have to remember I had just given four years service to my country, and most of these “kids” were at least four years younger than me! I sometimes forgot that too!
However, with my temper as it was, I lasted about an hour and then I was forced to make a scene by demanding that “we” get to work. “You people don’t understand that after this late night meeting, I STILL HAVE A FIFTY MILE (Exaggeration added for emphasis!) DRIVE HOME!”
No, I probably was not popular, but who cared! You only get in life what you fight for anyway.
The best part of my college years was actually parts of the driving experience, strange as that may seem.
That first quarter I drove by myself, and if there is such a thing as “white line fever” I got it! Sometimes I did not even remember the trip, just that I was either at school or I had arrived home. If you have ever commuted for any distance, you will understand completely.
After that lonely and boring time, I began riding with Connie’s cousin Belinda and her husband
Bill and I used to pretend we were flying my Mustang like it was an airplane! He would flip imaginary switches, to raise and lower the flaps or wheels, complete with sound effects, and I took off and landed us with all the drama and animations you would expect from me!
Belinda just sat in the back shaking her head and trying to read without helping us watch the road.
One day I had wrapped the seat belt, just the part sticking out the end of the buckle, around the bottom of the stirring wheel and was pretending the six-inch piece that was left over was the “stick!” I could move it slightly to the left and right and the car zoomed right along the Interstate.
However, when we arrived on campus and it came time to make a right turn the wheel would not turn! I slammed on the brakes and then remembered the belt round the bottom of the wheel! What an idiot! But we had fun and these are always some of the moments we recall when we get together.
Somehow, we all survived to graduate; Bill in ’71 and Belinda and I in ‘72. Bill became the principle of the junior high, Belinda became an English teacher, and I got a B.S. in Communications.
I set my sights on a career in advertising in