You Can’t Go Home Again…or Can You?

I’ve never been to a high school reunion, although I’m keeping watch for information about the 55th year reunion next year. But when I received a very nice invitation to a special luncheon for those of us who graduated from Frostburg State College (now University) fifty years ago, I found myself more interested than I would typically be for something like that.

I’d lived in Cumberland, Maryland, the four years I was in college. I attendedĀ  Allegany Community College (now the Allegany College of Maryland) which was just a few blocks from home and then transferred to Frostburg for my last two years. I stayed off-campus at the college during the week.

My memories of college life are pretty spotty, but the older I’ve grown, the greater my desire to see people and places from my past. So my wife, Kathleen, encouraged me to plan on us attending the reunion, which was to be held during Homecoming. I agreed. Gladly.

As time drew closer, however, I wasn’t able to determine that very many of the people I really wanted to see would be attending. And when I saw the names of people who would be attending an informal Friday night restaurant get-together, most of even the familiar names were people I hadn’t really known. Thank goodness one of my old roommates and his wife were going to be there!

So I felt slightly apprehensive about being in even a small gathering of basically strangers. That wouldn’t be “home” the way being with some of the folks I really wanted to see would have been, but I not only felt comfortable in that group, I enjoyed it.

There was only one problem. Everyone looked so old! Or so much older, anyhow. I didn’t even recognize my former roommate at first, although he recognized me.

But if physical changes to my fellow grads were, uh, sometimes more substantial than others, changes to the campus were even more drastic. Kathleen and I drove around the campus for a little while before heading to the restaurant, and I didn’t recognize anything! The number of new buildings was beyond my ability to comprehend. Very attractive, but nonetheless very strange to eyes that had seen things the way they used to look.

I’m writing this half an hour before Kathleen and I drive to the campus again. Thank goodness for the map we were provided for finding where to park and where at the building housing the luncheon!

Today is a dreary, rainy day. I’m afraid we won’t be walking around to view the campus. That’s frustrating,

Kind of. But the people–even just a few–will make Frostburg seem more like home than the university itself.

P.S. We enjoyed the luncheon today, but there were far more people than I’d expected. I couldn’t very well go around inspecting every name tag to see if it belonged to someone I knew. However, I did run into one person I’d known even before attending Frostburg. He’d belonged to the church in Cumberland my father had pastored, and my father had even married him and his wife. That was extra special.

I have to add that the president of the university welcomed the group, and his remarks really helped to put the relative newness of the university into perspective. Nonetheless, we 1968 graduates represented one phase in Frostburg’s development. But the university has moved far past where we were.

So it wasn’t home. Not the “home” we knew back then. But a worthy one for future students.

I’ll be back again next Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

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My First Car

(Click on pictures for larger image. This post doesn’t have pictures? Please pretend hard.)

If you’ve been following my blog, you may have already read about the fact that I didn’t learn to drive until I was a senior in college or get my license until the day I was moving from Western Maryland to the Eastern Shore to start teaching. I ended my post that day prior to getting my first car.

I’d like to thank the reader who reminded me that I’d promised to finish the story and asked me to please do so. So here goes.

I landed in Cambridge, Maryland, with a new drivers license but no car and was rooming at a boarding house beside Long Wharf. Without kitchen facilities, I had to eat every meal out. The High Spot opened for breakfast, and I could walk there easily enough. Good thing I liked their food, since other restaurants were appreciably further.

Equally good was the fact I was teaching at the old Cambridge High School, which I could walk to, also. It was further from my boarding house than the High Spot, though. Much further.

I was in a bit of a quandary about how I would get anywhere else in Cambridge without a car, but one of my mother’s aunts was kind enough to provide a solution. Not only did she die at a convenient time, she left me her old Chevy. Although I used to enjoy visiting in her home, I hadn’t seen her in years. Nonetheless, I appreciated her more than ever at learning of my inheritance.

I’m a little hazy on how I took delivery of her car. Either my parents drove separately to Cambridge or my father drove my “new” car and I drove him back to Cumberland, a four-hour drive at best.

But either way, I had a car. Hmm. An older Chevy, boring blue, no radio. Power steering and power brakes, neither of which I was used to. Boy, did I have problems keeping from oversteering and overbraking! But I didn’t kill myself or anyone else. And at least I had a car.

I’d become friends with another first year teacher, and we decided to get an apartment together. That freed up some of the budget that I’d had to use on all of those meals out.

Bob–I’ll omit his last name not to protect him, but because I can’t recall how to spell it correctly–had just bought a new car. A beautiful burgandy Ford LTD with a super sound system. It even had an eight-track tape player! (Did I fail to mention this was 1968?)

So I decided to do some car shopping. At least I had something to trade in. I needed to go inexpensive, though. Make that cheap.

I fell in love with a white 1968 Mustang with black vinyl roof. If memory serves correctly, it cost a whopping $3600 (I was making $5700 a year). I knew the payments on that car would keep me broke, and I was apt to be very cautious about money. Especially since I’d never been in debt before

So I reluctantly compromised and bought a 1968 Ford Falcon. Blue body and white top. Not vinyl. $2400. Payments I could afford.

That car served me well for a number of years. It was still drivable even after the hood blew up (as in “flew up because it wasn’t properly latched”) and crinkled so badly it wouldn’t shut easily. I had to sit on it and bounce to get it shut, much to the amusement of everyone who saw me do it. And the embarrassment of my first wife, who managed to total that car a short time later.

We replaced the Falcon with a Honda Civic. Some of you remember the old Civics. Bright orange. Required the use of a choke to get it started. I’m certainly much happier with my current bright red Civic.

But the Falcon was the last car that was just mine for many years. Our one car played the role of family car.

This story may not be the most exciting one you’ll read today, but I’ve really enjoyed reliving those memories.Thanks for listening.

What was your first car? How about leaving a comment and telling us about it?

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I’ll be back again on Wednesday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, just go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

“On Aging Gracelessly” isn’t my only blog. I post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years on “As I Come Singing”--check it out HERE. Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. View the list HERE.

Best regards,
Roger