Thursday, October 7, 2010

Journey of Awakening – 5: Clueless in Minnesota

Enrolled at the University of Minnesota in the summer of ’55. Tuition only $75 per quarter and an equal amount for books. Living at home helped and my church, First Christian, aka Dr. Forrest Richeson, my pastor paid for tuition and gave me “extra help” when necessary, since I was, until his considerable influence, headed for the ministry. Freshman orientation week was a whirlwind of tours of the campus (at that time 40,000 students strong) and parties. Somehow our orientation host found me attractive which led to a hot evening of necking and petting at the closing party. Can’t remember her name. She was short and chunky and soft. I remember she wore a black skirt and black cashmere sweater. I don’t recall running into her on campus for the next four years. So, for an incoming freshman with only about 3 real dates behind him it was “rush week” and I don’t mean Frats.

Since I didn’t live on campus my social life centered around church and the college age group “Teens and Twenties,” comprised of grads from the high school CYF group and those singles who were not away at college, plus students from the Abbott Hospital School of Nursing which was a few blocks from the church. Several couples formed around the TNTs and five of us guys found wives there, although through the usual tumultuous, turbulent, messy relationship-building required of maturing young minds and hearts.

I continued to work through much of that first year at J. Olson Machine, while trying to maintain a full class schedule mid-week with partying on the weekends, until I was “let go” after a screw-up of a job costing the company tens of thousands. I managed to pick up a few part-time jobs as an order filler and mailer over the rest of the school year and summer and into the next year.

It was also during my freshman year that I started dating Bobbie McLennan (one of the nursing students). My friends Denny Neill and Fred Reed also latched onto theirs, or rather were latched onto. These relationships saved our first year out of high school from totally degenerating into a series of drunken lost weekends. However, we did manage a few unmemorable ones (possible because we don’t remember them). Mostly our lives revolved around our gang of friends. Ev Hall and Ron Morehouse, in the Navy for two years, re-joined us at the end of my sophomore year. Bobbie had dumped me at the end of my Freshman year, which resulted in a whole lot of falling grades in my second year, due to spending a good deal of time in “recovery” and moping around like a sick puppy. Ev started dating Bobbie, which didn’t help. There were other girls who were willing to fill in the gap, but I kept my distance after one or two dates and hid by hanging out in the group.

The summer after my first year at the U. I worked as assistant cook (dishwasher and floor-mopper) at our church camp, Tipi Wakan, which means Lodge of the Great Spirit with our pastor’s daughter and Connie McAdams, who was my summer romance (and who sobbed uncontrollably when I left her, leaving me embarrassed and puzzled that I had no clue how she was feeling). One of my TNT friends, Barb Harden, looked me in the eye after the summer break and said “Hi, Romeo, how many hearts did you break this summer.” I of course was clueless and did not really know how to respond, or rather did not want to acknowledge how afraid of close relationships I was. But that sentence of hers has stuck with me as one that comes up on occasion. Barb is now in my “meditative council” although we have had no contact since that year.

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