Tuesday, March 3, 2015

NONSENSE AND A LOVE STORY



Not only did I not go to the Council meeting Monday night, but Dawg and I fell asleep as soon as I turned on the basketball game and when we awoke it was too late to write a blog

Instead of continuing the rest of my college/medical school days I am reprinting some anecdotes from a bio that I have written about those years.

By the end of my second year all required subjects including those need to apply to medical school, with the exception, of biology had been satisfied. Since I could not draw a straight line much less a good picture, biology laboratory was a problem.  Having finished basic requirements including those for medical school, I became a history major.

One of my greatest scholastic triumphs occurred during the third year. The final examination in a course in 17th century European history consisted of just three essay questions.  After the exam, during the usual student post mortem discussing our answers everyone told me that not one of my essays agreed with what the instructors had taught in the class.  To my amazement instead of a failure I received a grade of 100% plus.  Apparently, my instructor either appreciated my bull or place great value on original thought. 

Sometimes silly situations arose.  Once while in Randall, I was sitting on a stall john when a girl came in and pushed open the shuttered door. She stopped and looked at me then said, “Oh my God if I did not know you I would've been embarrassed”.  The fact that our acquaintance was barely casual made no difference to her.

Sternkopf, my older role model image, had a steady girlfriend and everyone knew they were having active sex. The beds were cast iron with flat springs, whose side rails fit into slots in the head and foot ends. Once, someone (Marty) tied cowbells to the bedsprings.  Another time the side rails were loosened from the slots so that the bed would collapse under them.

By the start of my third-year, I was living on the East Range in a room that I returned to for the next four years. “Home on 14 East Range” (1938-1943). Marty was still living in Randall Hall but later on moved to a room in a private house.  We were dating student nurses as well as town girls. In 1938-9, Sternkopf had married his Elma and was living in an “apartment”. They introduced me to one of her student nurse friends and we dated for a long period. 

The East Range rooms along with the Lawn rooms were part of Jefferson's original “University Village”.  Each was for one student and opened directly to the outside covered passageway, colonnades on the lawn, but brick arches on the ranges (East and West). Because each room opened directly to the outside, the students living there enjoyed a great deal of privacy.

Each room was large enough to contain any single bed with space for an easy chair, usually one recycled from the secondhand furniture store, and a desk in front of the window overlooking the back. Centered on the  other wall was  a fireplace with two small curtained alcoves on either side one, served as a clothes closet, the other contain a wash basin with hot and cold  running water and a small shelf for toilet articles. A steam heat radiator heated the rooms.

Except for the wash basin, the bathroom facilities were in a basement room entered from behind the end of alternating unit sections. The resident had to go outside to use the toilets and showers. One bath facility served two groups of rooms.  In the wintertime, this could be very cold. It is rumored that there were two types of lawn and range residents; those that admitted they used the washbasin as a urinal and those who denied their actions. 

Students usually bought a cord of firewood in the fall, which was stacked outside by the door.  The fireplaces were functional and gave heat. We all had radios and a favorite program for students studying at night was Cincinnati’s WLWL’s mood organ music program, “Moon River”, from 11pm to sign off time. This was also the era of the Big Bands, and at night, you could listen for hours to one after another.   I remember tuning in on the Orson Well's broadcast of “The War of the Worlds'.  Since I had not listen from the beginning I was amazed to learn the next morning about the publics' reaction. Even today, the panic and terror seems unreal.

There was an active trade in “moonshine” from the countryside. Some students were known to keep two kegs of “corn” in their rooms. One was under the rocking chair, which was the obligatory seat for a visitor, to be aged. A “cured” keg was available for drinking.  Except for Sloe Gin Fizzes which were popular in my first year dormitory, the favorite spring time drink was the “Mint Julep” made in a mason jar by crushing mint leaves and pouring in a pint of cheap whiskey, then filling the jar with cracked ice, and after wrapping the jar in a towel shaking it well to make a refreshing beverage good to the last watery diluted drop. One of the students whose mother was president of the Norfolk WCTU chapter could not bring his college year book home since it contained a large picture of him drinking out of a mason jar at Lambeth Field.

No, I never was “drunk” in college. Alcohol was a minor part of the “experience” although I seem to have focused. But it was at a party that third year an event occurred that changed my life.

One spring day in 1939 a senior student, who was planning to study for the Episcopalian ministry, had an open house farewell party in his room on the Range. As I walked in with Marian, I saw sitting on the desk in that smoke filled room a strawberry blond, the most beautiful girl I had ever seen.  I made my business to talk to her and although she was the host's girlfriend, made a date with her for the next afternoon. 

Coincidently, Marian had been his previous girlfriend and. although I was fond of her, we never dated again. The next afternoon Helen and 

I spent walking around the lawn, talking and learning about each other.  Towards the end of the day, I spontaneously dropped to my knees to make a “proposition” which she always claimed was a “proposal”. She also claimed that the minute I had walked in she had asked someone who I was and wanted to meet me.

To make a long story short that was the first date with my future wife of 68 years.

Although we dated steadily and almost daily after that, our courtship of course was never always smooth. In 1941 we married.



No comments:

Post a Comment