Saturday, February 21, 2009

Small College Advantage - Part A 1952-1953

If you haven’t read the previous posting that started this series off, please do so now before reading this new posting.

A. Freshman Year 1952-1953

I had my brother Ben’s car (1939 Pontiac) for my first year on campus. He was in the Navy overseas. I drove it from Kansas City, Missouri by myself when I was 18. As related in a previous story (click here), I had to keep the speed under 55 miles per hour and covered all 1,700 miles at that top speed. Gives you a chance to see some scenery as you go along.

I stayed a few days with my Aunt Doris and Uncle Orval Wright in Los Angeles before leaving for college. The only freeway in Southern California at that time was the currently named Pasadena Freeway. It was about 10 miles long ending in Pasadena. I pulled up to the campus and was met by a student named Ramon Cortines who was called “Peanuts”. Ramon disappeared for two years and returned my senior year because of time with the U.S. Army. Ramon is still in demand today as Interim Superintendent of Schools in Los Angeles. I see him occasionally on TV news. He had quite a career in education before retiring and has been called back into service a couple of times in LA to be Interim Superintendent.

Students were assigned the task to help freshmen get settled in campus life when they arrived. So Ramon helped me move the personal items from the car into my assigned dorm room. He noticed that I had a small TV and told me that it was not allowed on campus. Pasadena Nazarene College (PNC) had a rule that no TVs would be allowed. I didn’t know that when I left Missouri. So I put it in the closet and watched it there when time was available. A related story about this is found on the BLOG here under the title of “Forbidden Entertainment”.

My roommate was Dave Benson who was from Kansas City and a friend for the past three years. Dave and I attended the same high school and church. He asked me to be his roommate for his second year at the college. We ended up spending three years together.

I needed a job to pay for college expenses and applied at the local Sears store. I worked for Sears Mail Order in Kansas City which helped me get the job. My duties were to price and stock items. I wasn’t there long and got a job close to the college at the Headliner Coffee Shop as dish washer/busboy. My hours were 5 p.m to 1 a.m. Monday through Thursday and 12 noon to 5 p.m. on Saturdays. The college had a curfew and bed check but I was exempted because of my hours. They didn’t know when I worked so they didn’t check on me at all. I spent two years working for the Headliner. Paid all my expenses including college costs. Couldn’t do that today.

I bought a breakfast pass from the college and had breakfast with about 8 people every day. You get to know them that way. Two of them (Sharon Lamkin and Sheila Lawlor) ended up spending their careers with the college retiring recently from Point Loma Nazarene University. PNC moved to San Diego in 1973. Both of these ladies married students from my graduating class year - Ross Irwin and Keith Holly.

Looking through the 1953 La Sierra yearbook is an interesting adventure. You see many people that signed your book that you have forgotten. Also many that have been life long friends. On page 121 you will find a full page picture of me driving a 1913 Model T Ford for a school rally. That story is also in a previous post on this BLOG here.

This was the year of “The Fire House Five” basketball team that were state champs in N.A.I.A. small college basketball. They played in Kansas City representing California. John Davis, Ralph Leech, Ted Cummins, Doyle Cozzens, and Bob Hopkins were coached by Ken Keoppel who happened to be the Business professor that taught many classes of mine.

Two of our next door neighbors were Clyde Rose and Ken Robinette. When I went down to change my driver’s license from Missouri to California, the observer wouldn’t get into the Pontiac because it had a cracked windshield. So I borrowed Clyde’s 1946 Ford to take the driving test. Ken and I did a lot of things together over the weekends including driving up to Mount Wilson, attending car races in Compton, etc. Guy things.

A requirement at this church college is to attend chapel services. We had assigned seats and attendance was taken. This is another place that you get to know people around you. This provided many laughs and close friendships.

Classes were small and you got to know the other students. The teacher got to know you. This is a big advantage over the larger universities where you become a number. In order to place you in some classes, tests were given at the beginning of the year. I must have aced the English exam as they put me in the top class that only wrote themes. This was taught by a man who attended Olivet Nazarene College and sang in a quartet with two of my uncles. So naturally I thought I would ace this class too. NOT! He worked our tails off writing and re-writing themes. I can recall working hours and hours on stories and getting a very low grade on them. I can also recall writing a story on the day it was due and getting an “A” on it. I guess he was preparing me to write this BLOG.

Christmas vacation was only two weeks long and several of us from the Midwest wanted to go home. So five of us and luggage got into the 1939 Pontiac and drove straight through changing drivers. The road in Kansas was slick with ice and snow and we went into the ditch. Almost immediately a farmer came along with his tractor and hooked up a chain pulling us out of the ditch. Nothing said and he didn’t charge anything. We were on our way again. About 7 miles from home the transmission gave out. During the time home, it was repaired for $125 and we made our way back to the college in time for classes. Toward the end of the school year, my brother came back from overseas duty for his car.

The summer between my Freshman and Sophomore years I returned home to Kansas City (Dave’s dad drove us in his new 1953 Dodge) and worked at the Sears Mail Order warehouse. That was the last time I spent the summer in Kansas City.

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