Scared to Death!
And so the girl went off to college! I’d been given a terrific scholarship, but I figured I was woefully unprepared for college courses, coming out of my small high school. For the first time in my life, I had to study hard.
The English and lit courses, though, I adored. A professor named Charles Noyes taught my freshman English Comp class. Dr. Noyes loved his pretty girl students (not in a dirty old man way) and tolerated the guys. He would perch on the edge of the desk with his pipe between his teeth, ask me a question, and listen, as though I had something remarkable to say. One of our writing topic choices (which I aced–wonder why?) was “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.” I credit Dr. Noyes with giving me confidence and helping me discover my voice.
The freshman year wasn’t all grind.
I’ll confess it: I went out for rush and pledged a sorority. Yes. I was an Ole Miss Sorority Girl. (What kinds of stories have you heard about that, I wonder? It seems Ole Miss girls are legendary.) That meant a whole new set of friends, meals and study nights at “the house,” work days, campus political campaigns, and volunteer activities. But it also meant fraternity swaps and parties and football games. In those days we got very dressed up for games: a suit, high heels, a hat, and a big mum corsage, accessorized by a frat-boy date. This was Hotty-Toddy land, the golden era of Johnny Vaught football. (If you never heard of Johnny Vaught, look him up. This was the year that LSU beat Ole Miss 7 to 3, courtesy of Billy Cannon’s 99-yard punt return.)
Our freshman dorms were overflowing that year. I started out with two roommates, neither of whom I’d known before. By second semester, both were on academic probation, which meant they had to be in the dorm by six in the evening, so they would go out on dates in the afternoon. By sophomore year, they were both gone. There were no coed dorms in those days, and everybody had to be in at nine on weeknights. No pants or, God forbid, jeans except on Saturdays, and then we had to wear a raincoat over them. We had to sign in and sign out of the dorm. There were panty raids (No, Mother, I never threw anything out my window!) and romantic fraternity serenades when somebody got “pinned.” It was a wondrous time.
There was still the shadow of The Old Boyfriend, who had transferred to Ole Miss that year. We had agreed to date others, right? But he was possessive, and he acted out if I showed up at a party with somebody else. He flunked out after a semester and was gone. (He will reappear once more in these stories. Stay tuned.)
Then, I was free. I was having the time of my life.
When were you on your own? College? Working? Military? Tell me what your leaving home was like.
The memory quest continues with Jane Ann McLachlan’s Memoir and Backstory Blog Challenge through the month of October. Go over to Jane’s site and have a look at other bloggers who have dared to meet the challenge.