Friday, March 21, 2014

Bucknell University Memories

Several years ago, my mother handed me a bundle containing all the letters I wrote home during my years away at college.  I was studying mathematics at Bucknell University, and taking the additional courses necessary to obtaining my teaching certificate.

Several months ago I came across this packet of letters again, buried at the bottom of a drawer.  Since I found them again, I've been reading them, one per day, and having plenty of amusement looking back at what my life was like 35 to 40 years ago.

One letter in particular brought to mind so many forgotten experiences.  This letter was written home on Tuesday, December 9, 1975.  At that time I would have been a sophomore approaching the end of the Fall semester.

 Some of the memories that came back to me as I read parts of this letter were:

1.  How we all tried to carve out some precious time each week to contact our families.  This was the age of snail mail.  There were no personal computers, no cell phones, no texting.  To write a letter required finding an hour between classes or using the letter writing as a study break.

"I hope you understand that I haven't written much lately because I've been so very busy."

2.  I saved up my pocket change to make a phone call home on the dorm's one hall phone every Wednesday night. If some other activity pre-empted  my call that week, I would write the reason why in my next letter home.

3.  For one reason or another, at college we never seemed to get enough sleep.  Ever.  That balance between studying enough and socializing is a tricky one to find.

"I find myself getting to bed later and later and getting up earlier and earlier."

4.  Roommates could get to be very annoying at times, even if they seemed like great friends at selection time.

"Barb informs me that although her finals will be over by Wednesday at noon, she is staying until Saturday night to keep me company.  Of course, I was 'overjoyed' at that news.  What I need her company for during finals week I don't know.  I hope she doesn't bug me.  I never heard of anybody sticking around here after finals if they didn't have to."

5.  Getting mail from home was like hitting the lottery jackpot.

6.  Receiving an invitation from a boy to attend a college formal with him was a very big deal.  Apparently, wearing an all black dress to it, was an even bigger deal back then.

"Nancy took me into Sunbury where we searched every single decent store looking for a dress for me.  At the very last store, we had almost given up when I found a dress I fell in love with and it looked excellent on me.  I can imagine your reaction if I tell you now that it's all black, but let me mitigate the shock by saying that it looked great on me and I got so many compliments the night of the formal."

7.  This was the era of dorm hall fondu parties.

"Saturday night we ended up having to make four pots of fondu, because it was so good!  So many people came that we couldn't all fit in the suite."

8. At the time of this one letter, I was well into the process of trying out for the Bucknell Women's Basketball team.  I remember the stress and fatigue that accompanied those practices and games.

"This week is pretty critical - they are really watching us and making notes because the cuts will be finalized by Friday."  (I did get selected to the team.)

9.  Juggling the time requirements of keeping up with my studies and traveling to out-of-the-area games and tournaments was a constant sap on my energy and amount of sleep.

"This Thursday, besides practice, we must travel to Lock Haven to see the French National Woman's Basketball team play an exhibition game.  I think it will be good to see but will take up a big hunk of study time.  And, if I say I can't make it, you know the coach'll think I'm not very interested."

10.  News from home was always valuable and coveted.

"How about the Christmas dance?  Did Bruce (my brother) ask 'the mature one' yet?

And finally, I've noticed a common thread in most of my letters to home.  That is, a request at the end of each letter for some money.  Because I attended college before the era of ATM bank machines, we only had our trusty checkbooks to work with.  Good old Mom had to make a transfer from my savings account to my checking account every couple of weeks.

Boy have things changed since then.

Don't even get me started on my fancy college calculator or typewriter....

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