Down Memory Lane   - George B. Simpson, Sturgis News, Wed 17 June, 1998

         Off to college we went in those days (1947)., I was just an ignorant freshman with little foresight and little advice from any quarter. I just blundered along. At the freshman registration I had no advisor and no help from anyone. It was just claw your way to 'a table and register for some class--if it were not full. I was placed in English 101A at 8:00 Monday, Wednesday, and Friday under Dr. Gordon Wilson, the department head. He had a PHD in English from Indiana University and was a naturalist, a folk loreist a hometown writer(down in the Purchase-Fidelity), he was 100% full of energy.  He packed his one hour class with lecture, tests, questions, and sometimes his recall of the past; he drilled us; made us use the library; cut us down to size; marked our themes with red pencil; criticized our poor sentence structure, use of words, and our poor punctuation. In his eye we were illiterate and uncouth. Half our classroom was football and basketball players. The football linemen suffering from injuries drug therris elves to Class and limped out of class. Most were too tired to do their class assignments. The fall of '47 hung on us heavy-- 1/3 of the class were GI vets of World War 11 going to school on the GI bill and their money was short and many were married with children and living in vet village in a small trailer with a wife and two or three children.

Thus, it was dog eat dog; some were pre-med and pre-dental students--studying hard to get a grade to get into med school and dental school or pharmacy school.  Thus, I knew not a real scholar among them--there just for the learning and the hunt of knowledge; It was an economic thing; to heck with the content of the couse--just get a grade and a good grade point average. A sonnet was just a 16th century something that Shakespeare scribbled for his plays. They were hunting dollars" out there somewhere.

Dr. Wilson tried to cull us out and discourage us. He saw little hope in our eyes and little promise In our poor theme writing. But I was hanging on. Just passing.  Just barely holding my own.  It was so much to digest; and I did try--or a least I thought I was trying.  Someone stole my text books--I was fool enough to leave them on the campus rock and grass while I attended the college chapel (1947) in old Van Meter Hall.  How was I to know (in 1990) my youngest daughter was to win the title of Kentucky's Jr. Miss in that hall; and Will, my son, was to, in 1991, accompany her on the piano and bring down the, house when she returned as ruling Jr. Miss.

But fall ~of 47 was a full schedule school term (quarter system) full of few exciting courses. Because courses were short I signed up for Art I (appreciation).   I learned nothing for the teacher taught nothing.  She taught nothing of excitement of art or art history; or the fields of art. We had a very limited use of water colors and silly drawings. Years later I had a real art teacher at Henderson Community Coliege--Mr. Gourley -- and he propelled us Into art history, oils, etc., and perspective and etc. Dewy Gourley was a real inspiring teacher at old Henderson Community College and it was all night school after a hard day at work.

In fall of '47 1 had biology (plants) under a good lecturing professor. However, there were 250 in the class; and for lab it was so. crowded we never got to do any actual dissecting of the frog.  I learned more from hog-killing on No.9 road at Uncle Lim Hulete's than at the college lab. I did see. that the hog and the frog were all much like we humans. Same this and same that. Poor creatures, treated so inhumanly. Then I had a history course under a teacher who was subbing for a college teacher, and she was kind and understanding, but not a college level teacher--so I got a wasted course in American History.

But the real learning was Just observing the students, their attitudes, their dress their reactions; their hometown attitudes; their motivations; their speech patterns;  their  smoking, drinking, and social habits.

And all the recreation was built around one's basketball ticket and right to get into the basketball gym to see U of L vs. Western or Eastern vs. Western; or Murray vs. Western; or Morehead or Memphis State; or Evansville College; and there was never an empty seat in the college gym. And there was Ed Diddle. I was not much of a basketball fan, but finally in four years I began to follow the game -- as all others seemed to love it. Western had little to crow about -- but basketball; and crow they did. The college was academically not so great, but mey had a big bunch of 6'5" basketball players. Thus, the game, the athlete was the end of all and nothing else manered. But there was a big world out mere that cared not for a basketball score but we at Western were blinded to it for four years. But it was a place to get a college degree; so I coasted along; joined the Congress Debate club; A.M. Stickles History club; and attended Sunday School and Church and BSU, at First Baptist Church.

But for all of '47 and '48 at 8:00 each morning I got a big 100% shot of Dr. Gordon Wilson.  And then I took Dr. Stickle's history course and loved every minute of it. For all his old gray hair and elderly ways he was a giant of a teacher and I could not get enough of his teaching. And but for those two teachers Western was no different from high school. Thus, I left Western still a rural person, with rural ways and views and conservative in religious views. And I was not recognized for having any talent or any special gift just a hum-drum person--as still am.

But we (all) have a tale to tell and a story to relate. But I am still the 13 year~old lad who began writing in our old attic on No.9 road on a tablet with pencil, with no one to watch or observe or criticize. At least freedom was here for me to seize and special views could be set down and recast.  At Sturgis High we had not one chance to submit a theme, a poem, or a creative writing; but that was okay; I was far too bashful to let my writings go public; it was a private exercise; between me and my maker for the time being.

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