i have, by my count, about a dozen posts begun but put on the back burner for various reasons. i’ve flitted from one to another, adding paragraphs, deleting whole passages, adding more, never quite finishing. Here is one i actually finished today.
i went to the San Diego State campus Tuesday morning. i have the microfiche copy of the USS Yosemite’s ship logs for the almost two years i was fortunate to serve as her XO. The logs will verify dates and significant events for the book i am trying to write about that tour.
Why i am going there to read the microfiche is a long, other story, but the SDSU library appears to the best answer.
There is this undefined thrill, feeling of being surrounded by academia, that pulses in me when i walk across any college campus. Don’t understand it considering my history, but it’s there, undeniably there and it feels good.
Every time i visit Vanderbilt, i feel it in spades. Perhaps it is because that is the spot of my academic plummet and i’ve always wanted to go back and get a degree of some time. But i’ve finally admitted it’s too late now. My daughter Blythe feels it. Only a small percentage of us has shown the grit necessary to pursue a degree after several years in the business world. It was tough. She did it. i remain proud of her for this difficult achievement. When she was showing us her campus, University of Texas, Austin several years ago, she talked about how she would love to spend her life going to school there. She said there was some special feeling about the campus, the pursuit of knowledge.
i know how she feels.
College campuses, even Vanderbilt’s, are greatly different than they were when i was in college fifty-plus years ago, than they were when i was an NROTC “associate professor” (sic) at Texas A&M.
They didn’t have skateboards back then. At state, there are students flying all over the campus, ignoring signs for safe zones where they are forbidden. Then there are the students. Diversity is much greater, which warms my heart. And of course, the attire. Oh, there are still some male students who wear sports coats and ties, but either they are headed for a job interview or it’s sort of a low humor mockery — a few SDSU boys (is it okay to call them that? i don’t want to hurt someone’s politically correct sensitivity) wore black sport coats and red ties, the school colors, while sliding past me on those skateboards.
What women wear now would have caused expulsion, not to mention one whole hell of a lot of male students flocking behind them, when i was a student.
Back then, men wore grey or blue slacks, madras shirts, sweaters, dark socks, and cordovan weejuns. London Fog jackets were okay if it was cool. Women wore dresses, or blouses and skirts, usually flats, and even saddle oxfords with knee socks. Sweaters were the cover for cool weather.
Now, damn near everything goes. Tee shirts with profanity inscribed abound. Some women, many who shouldn’t, wear leggings. period, often with a sweatshirt. Shorts of every kind and every length has proliferated with no regard to sexual preference. Gym gear on students who don’t look they’ve ever set foot inside a gym, including watching a sport, is everywhere.
And hair. There is short hair, long hair, twisted hair, colored hair, no hair, and hats of all sorts hide hair. The one i’ve never understood is baseball caps worn backwards for…what? to keep their necks from getting sunburned? To wear because one is always facing away from the sun? The only thing i can figure out is one day, this really ugly guy trying to get some women wore his backward one day to see if he get some woman interested in him and the lemming boys decided since it was different it was cool and could attract women. Not. Stupid.
i stopped and sat on a bench in the main plaza to make a phone call. i try not to do something like that while walking. i just watched as the campus began to come alive at 8:30. And you know what? All of the differences just seemed to fade away because that feeling of the pursuit of knowledge was still there, perhaps even more so.
These young adults were after knowledge. Not all of them, of course, but most. Seeking to know, seeking to learn the way they should, could succeed in this crazy world. A bastion of knowledge, academics. Oh yeh, there are a bunch who actually believe their side of the media circus and protest instead of studying, who think they know more about how to make the world better than all of the generations before them, even when, like all of the generations before them at that age, don’t know snot.
But they are looking for a better way. They are trying just like all of those earlier college students.
And with that feeling of knowledge and academia, it’s quite all right. Quite all right.