Wednesday, February 25, 2009
A Journey in the Wayback Machine
My friend Emily is a sophomore in college and experiencing some frustrations. I have confidence that she will survive the growing pains that many of us lived through. Her situation gave me the idea to review the journal entries for MY sophomore year at college with the purpose of sharing some excerpts with her. Just to show Emily that some things never change.
What a trip!
I had forgotten much of what had occurred during the 1969-70 academic year while I attended Linfield College in McMinnville. Some of the antiquities will amuse Emily, I'm sure. Some of the historical events that occurred those two semesters are amazing.
Here's a sampling:
* I paid $29.03 for my books first semester, and $29.00 second semester.
* Amy Tan was a freshman on campus. Yes, THAT Amy Tan.
* The girls' dorms had resident dorm mothers in charge. Gray-haired women right out of the 1930s who kept a tight rein on us. We had to sign out and sign in when we left the dorm in the evening, and adhere to a curfew. The doors were locked every night (an hour later on Fridays & Saturdays). The only way to gain entry to the dorm once it was locked up was to ring the doorbell for the dorm mother.
* Apollo moon shots were still exciting. We pulled an all-nighter in the dorm lounge first semester to watch a 3:00 am PST moon walk. Second semester, Apollo 13 experienced preflight problems before it blasted off on April 12. We all know what happened next.
* The Viet Nam draft lottery was passed. We gathered near televisions to watch the drawing that determined the draft status of our male classmates.
* Frerichs Hall, the music and theater building, went up in flames December 16. We'd had a fire drill in our dorm the night before and treated it as a joke. The flames and smoke that could be seen across campus sobered us. Decades of theatrical costumes were lost, the professors lost a career's worth of books, papers, and mementos. All the practice pianos were lost, and a concert harp was reduced to a shell. Fortunately, no one was hurt and the flames did not spread to the adjacent science building with its chemicals.
* It snowed on March 1. Big wet flakes that melted on the pavement -- but the Hawaiian students didn't care!
* I typed my papers on a portable, MANUAL typewriter. I had a clunky blue clock radio that received only AM stations, and I played my record albums (those grooved black pizza-looking vinyl things) on a cheap foldup stereo.
* President Nixon sent troops into Cambodia, which set off riots on college campuses across the nation. Oregon's public colleges cancelled classes in an attempt to prevent problems. Everyone was stunned by events at a school we'd never heard of before -- Kent State.
Many of my journal entries discussed exasperation with professors, the difficulty in getting motivated to study for exams, midterm progress reports, researching and writing papers, and the melodramatic lives of the 18 to 22-year-old women living under one roof (talk about estrogen overload!). There were fraternity serenades for pinnings and engagements. Football, basketball and baseball games to attend. Movies on campus and in "Mac." Trips to Portland. Burgers, fries and milkshakes at Alf's.
A tumultuous period for our nation and the world -- yet we students went about our daily lives. Isn't that what History is all about?