Returning to My Childhood, Part 2

If you ever run across a copy of my old high school annual, and search it to get the low-down on me…you’ll be disappointed.  You won’t find much there.  High school was pretty uneventful.  I think most all of us (fifty-something, I can never remember the exact number) were ready to go.  What I got out of high school was my future wife.  But that almost didn’t happen.  More later.

I spent the Summer of ’69 waiting for classes to start that fall at Freed-Hardeman.  And, while so doing,  spending a lot of time with my wife girlfriend.  We didn’t get married till ’73, but I digress.

There are two competitors for the one word to describe my feelings while at Freed-Hardeman: lonesome and homesick.  Debbie was back at good ole Sulligent, and getting prettier by the minute.  That, as it turns out, would be a problem of sorts.  I was stuck at Freed and I had to stay there.  Since I didn’t make friends easily, I’m an INTJ, you know, I spent the days wishing for Friday, when I could return home for the weekends.

Through the week I majored in Bible and tried to work in the pre-med courses.  I wanted to be a faithful Christian and felt obliged to do some preaching, but what I really, really wanted to do career-wise was be a physician and come back to Sulligent and grow into the old, patriarchal doctor.  As you know, only half of that happened…I came back to Sulligent.  Some guys like to learn about cars and work on them.  That’s great.  I wanted to learn about how the human body worked and be that kind of repairman.  I thought that would be as exciting as, well, intimate relations with your spouse.  That’s how appealing that field was to me.

So, what really happened was, my stupidity issues surfaced again, and I never even applied to medical school.  Would I have gotten in?  Would I have letters after my name today?  Who knows.  One of my buddies from high school did go to med school and he’s a doctor today.  He’s actually my doctor.  He’s smarter than me, but he’s pretty smart.  Maybe I could have gotten in…maybe.  Realistically, I think I would have been on the bubble.  But, I do think that if I had gotten in, I would have gotten through.  Had I gotten through, I believe I would have never worked another day for the rest of my life (catch my drift on that).

My freshman year ended, the following summer (unfortunately) ended, and I returned for year two.  On October 6 of that fall (1970) the mother of all possible disasters happened.  Debbie broke up with me.  I know whose fault it was: it was hers.  If she wasn’t by then the best looking female in the high school, she was a serious candidate for the position.  The boys wouldn’t leave her alone, and she came to enjoy the attention.  After all, I was 135 miles away stuck in Tennessee.  She couldn’t help herself.

So there I was.  I had no serious interest in any of the girls at college and I was bereft of the love of my life.  I lost down to 157 pounds (I had been 190).  I’ve seen a couple of old pictures – I was decently tall, so I looked like a rail.  I’m sure that made the recovery of my girlfriend more difficult.

Well, the short story is: I wouldn’t leave her alone and my persistence paid off.  We were married June 14, 1973 – twelve days after I graduated from Lipscomb with a B.A. in Bible.  My dad asked me to go in with him in his successful insurance agency, so I did, and preached part-time.  We rented for a year and then built a house next door to Dad in Sulligent.  We still have the house.  Austin, Teralee, Ridge, and Brooks live in Dad’s house.  Dad’s small farm is Austin’s hunting preserve.

Excursus on Freed-Hardeman

What you are about to read is one man’s opinion.  There are others.  I am writing about conclusions I have drawn from my experience at Freed-Hardeman in 1969 – 1972 and my sons’ (Eric and Austin) experience at the University of Alabama.  Your experience may vary.

Freed is a good place and I received a good education there.  I did make a few friends there and I still have them today.  Here are the strengths (not intended to be exhaustive).  One: it is a good place to meet a Christian spouse.  I already had my future Christian spouse, so that was of no interest/value to me personally.  With church of Christ dating sites on the internet now, this strength may be less important than in past times.  Two: you can study the Bible at the college level.  My Bible courses were good. One of my professors had a PhD in philosophy from Vanderbilt.  I would call that credentialed.

Here are some weaknesses.  One: it is a sheltered environment.  Some may desire that and if that works for you, go for it.  However, one has to grow up sometime and begin to make one’s own decisions.  There were some detailed rules about dress, etc. when I was there 40 years ago.  I know for a fact there has been some loosening up and it may not be as sheltered now as it was then.  Two: There is little student diversity, everybody looks like everybody else.  Unless things have changed, and remember I was a student there 40 years ago, you may not get the chance to interact with people from different backgrounds and thus different perspectives.  But, when you get out into the real world, a college-educated person will likely encounter people who are different from themselves.  To me, it would be nice to experience more diversity before you get your degree to better prepare you for after graduation.

Here’s a word on public universities.  You may have heard that if you go to a public university they will try and mess with your faith.  Both of my sons went to Alabama following Bevill.  One was a science (biology) major.  No one tried to mess with their faith.  At universities outside the “Bible Belt” it might be different.  Our only experience is with the University of Alabama.

So, what would I do today?  That’s a complex question.  My daughter, Jessica, went to Faulkner, which is similar to Freed-Hardeman but considerably smaller.  However, that’s a long story.  She was originally going to Alabama.  You could shoot for the best of both and go to Freed for a year or two and then transfer to a larger university.  If I had mine to do over today, I think I would go to Alabama as a freshman.

Well, I hope you enjoyed my thoughts.  I may write some more about life after marriage.  I haven’t decided yet.  Thanks for reading.

The Summer of '69


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