At Nineteen: Already a Has-been?

I have news: the Sophomore Slump isn’t a myth. I know. I lived it.

After a pretty exciting first year of college, at the start of my sophomore year, I hit the slide. Oh, I was going out some, but there wasn’t anybody special. Generally, life was good. I liked my classes, and I wasn’t as anxious about grades as I had been during my freshman year. But my social life slowed way down.

I was living with two other girls–that’s right; three of us crammed into a room meant for two. We had a set of bunk beds plus one other, and one closet for all of us. But we were great friends. I guess we had to be! One roommate was a morning person who, the instant the alarm went off, leapt out of bed with “Good morning! How’s everybody this morning?” (I cannot italicize that word enough to give it the proper emphasis!) I would groan and roll over, dying for just five more minutes of sleep. She was also the one who, when she answered the hall phone and it was for me–yes, there was just one pay phone for the entire floor–would scream, “Goochie! Phoo-oone!” at the top of her lungs. I didn’t like being called “Goochie.” But I loved my roommates, anyway. I still do.

This is what our room sometimes looked like:

After the ball is over . . .

But that doesn’t address the slump. I dated a football player briefly that fall. He thought he was God. (I knew how to pick ’em, didn’t I?) He took me to a drive-in movie and ran over the speaker. He asked me to be his date to the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans. Do I need to explain to you what a huge deal that was? My parents didn’t understand it. They refused to let me go. The Big Football Player didn’t call me again, and I was crushed.

There was this other guy, though. He’d cut in at a dance back in the fall, and one afternoon after class, he offered me a ride to my dorm in his white convertible. He didn’t call me until the spring, and I thought he’d forgotten all about me. When he picked me up for our first date, he was driving an old Ford, not a convertible. A bird had hit the front grille, and he hadn’t been able to get the dead bird out. That car smelled awful! It turned out the convertible belonged to his sister. By then, it didn’t matter. He was a pre-med student, a Mississippi Delta boy with the bluest eyes I’d ever seen and a great smile. He wasn’t handsome, exactly, but those eyes. He was intelligent. He loved books and music. He had a great future.

If you had handed me a checklist of all the things I was supposed to look for in a mate, I would have checked all of them off. I’d been schooled in the primary goal, you see: to find somebody to marry who would give me smart children and provide for me well. My college degree was like a trophy. I wasn’t really expected to do anything with it, although my father had advised me to get a teacher’s license so that if something happened, I could take care of myself.

This New Boy and I dated the rest of our sophomore spring. I won’t tell you the end of the story. Not yet.

At what point did your life take a turn that would determine your future? Were you aware of its importance at the time?

Thanks to Jane Ann McLachlan for bringing us the October Memoir and Backstory Blog Challenge!

11 thoughts on “At Nineteen: Already a Has-been?

    • As hard as that experience must have been, I think you were better off. I *could* have done a lot of things. But then, I wouldn’t have the life (or the children or the experiences) I had if things had gone differently. Thanks for continuing to read and comment here, Jane Ann. I really appreciate it!


  1. I would think that writing is your true “calling,” Gerry. It combines all of the above. Too many life changers to count on my end. In starting Jane Ann’s challenge, I hadn’t realized all of the huge life events that happened every single blessed year. So I’ve modified the challenge to fit my reality and my current abilities. I think Veronica Roth is taking similar license.


    • “I hadn’t realized all of the huge life events that happened every single blessed year.”

      I know. I am besieged with memories. There’s so much more than I could possibly tell here. It’s funny how memory begets memory.


  2. I love the photo of the room!

    Your University experience sounds so different from mine. It’s amazing how much can change in so little time.


  3. I was just enough farther along in the generations that my parents expected a return on their investment to college with a career that meant I could provide for myself. I suspect I was living out my mother’s secret dream because she went to college but married almost immediately after and had children soon after that — as her parents expected her to do.


  4. Gerry, I’m reading through your entries and reliving my life! Yes, we are from about the same time period. I, too, was told by my father to get a degree so that I could get a job if something happened to my husband (an aunt lost her husband at an early age and had to work to support her son), or if I didn’t get married. Still I wanted some kind of a career. I may have been trying to make it up to my mother, who had a good education but had to stay home with housework and children after she married. She liked children, but clearly hated housework! Or maybe I was trying not to get into that trap.


    • In some ways, Joanne, I was living out my parents’ dreams. Neither of them went to college, so they really wanted that for me. But I’m not sure they could see beyond that. I wanted to be a clinical psychologist! I even thought seriously about pursuing that much later, but I wound up teaching, which I think was most likely my “calling.” We do seem to have a lot in common, don’t we? Thanks for reading.


      • This was a time when the choices seemed few for women particularly. Jane has often wished she were aware of other opportunities. That you even considered a clinical psychologist is beyond what most women of that time would have considered.

        In HS I decided there were two kinds of jobs, those that worked with things and those that worked with people. I believed I ell into the latter — in that I was correct.


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