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Friday, Aug. 26, 2016

College days were a time of simplicity

Posted Monday, August 27, 2012, at 4:49 PM

I've been hearing a lot of folks talk about their kids starting college. That set me to thinking about my own university days. I realize now those days were absolutely a time of gentle simplicity.

The requirements for college life were not extremely draining or too challenging. Get yourself up, shower and dress, pick up your books, and head out to grab some food. Walk to class, listen to professors, do the necessary assignments, and earn credits.

After a period of four to five years, get your degree and then a job. Along the way, gather up and store some of the best memories you may ever make.

My first year, I stayed at Vincennes University on campus. It was a small campus, perfect for a small-town gal. In those days, you traveled to Vincennes to spend a day trying to sign up for classes, a frustrating and maddening time. Our first night spent on campus, the university hosted a street dance. The music was good, loud, and the mash of students in great spirits.

Staying in a room with three other roommates was an unusual experience for me. I can still remember two of their names: Pat McAnulty and Roberta Nadratowski. Pat was a very beautiful, accomplished dancer. What astonished me about this roommate was she used a type of cream-like cleaner that she brushed through her hair but never seemed to wash it. Didn't figure that one out til later.

My other roommate rarely went to class, got sick with mono, and spent the rest of her time with kids from "the region."

I went to class and spent the rest of my time with some of the most excellent friends from Greene County. Some nights when we became bored, we would walk a few blocks to a candy shop for fudge or a candy apple, go uptown to Gimbels and shop, or go to DQ for what I believe was the tastiest strawberry shortcake I've ever tasted.

Another night-time adventure was to fill Coke cups with shaving cream, bend the open edges together, slide the wedged edge under a dorm room door, and then stomp on the cup. You galloped as quickly as possible to the end of the hall and made the corner before you were caught.

What I remember most is riding to and from home on the weekends in a crowded car filled with lively conversation and lots of teen energy. Not much seriousness going on in those surroundings.

The next year I transferred to Purdue University. Huge campus plus some marathon walking to and from class and not much time to accomplish that. I registered late and ended up in a one story small house-like dwelling with 19 strangers. There were two girls to each tiny bedroom, a common area with tables and chairs, and a large restroom facility. I quickly made fast friends with all 19 of my roomies.

We ate together, studied, went to movies, and played rousing games of cards called "Oh .........." In the spring we spent as many hours sunbathing as we did going to class. I do recall some of these gal's names: Mimi, Mal, Mary Beth (my roommate and best friend), Judy Kleinbub, Pam Maish who had some serious asthma issues (never slowed her down), Marcia, and one girl who spent two hours every day brushing and using a water pick on her large, even white teeth.

Purdue was absolutely not co-educational during this time. Appointed dorms for girls, other dorms for guys. One night in the fall, the guys from a few dorms were conducting panty raids all over campus (numbering in the hundreds). Our thin-walled home did not afford much protection.

We were firstly afraid and secondly, ignorantly excited. The night involved some girls in the larger dorms pulling guys into their rooms using sheets. No injuries were reported.

The year was 1967 and many young men were returning from Vietnam and going back to school. They had a desperate kind of attitude toward life in general. Much time was spent talking about their experiences as soldiers.

My final years were spent at Indiana State University. I spent more time working and studying after declaring a major. As a junior, then senior in Elementary Education, I soon developed close friendships with students who were all studying for the same degree. We had the same class schedules for many semesters.

I realize now that these were some of the best years of my life. I think one might call them halcyon days, just the right amount of freedom, not much stress, lots of laughter, and great friendships made.

Tawni is a retired teacher who lives in Linton. She can be reached by email at tawniprudhomme@gmail.com .

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