|Every fall finds me at some point flashing back to my bittersweet college days. It was the dawn of the bright and polyester decade of the '70s, and I had chosen Carson-Newman, a small Baptist college in the hills of East Tennessee, to serve as the esteemed institution where I would pursue my quest for higher knowledge, learning and power.
I had picked Carson-Newman for two specific reasons: One, because I had been raised Baptist, and I naively thought I had a pretty good feel for the so-called "lay of the land;" and Two, because even though the school was small, it had a football team, and what good was autumn without a hometown college football team? Back then, as well as now, every college football team in Tennessee took a back seat to the giant orange shadow of the University of Tennessee's gridiron heroes. But I didn't care. I wanted to attend a school where things were more accessible. And that's what I got, with a warm and fuzzy time warp to boot.
|As early-'70s Carson-Newman students, we were privileged to see what college life was like in the '40s and '50s. While your average college students were protesting the war in Vietnam and attempting to burn down their administration buildings, we sat on the grassy hill overlooking the main drag and watched the homecoming parade wind through the little town, and occasionally complained that, as students at a Baptist college, we were forbidden to dance on campus. Then, we headed over to the stadium to catch the game. This is not to say we were oblivious to what was going on the world. I just think that most of us figured that reality would come and bite us soon enough.
In the autumn of 1972, in the midst of football games and homecoming parades, I became editor of Carson-Newman's student newspaper, The Orange and Blue. Because of the irregular printing schedule of the newspaper, we decided to focus on our strengths and diversities rather than on timeliness and being up-to-date. One of our experiments was a regular comic strip called "The Adventures of Owen Bee." Owen, who got his name from the abbreviation of The Orange and Blue, sampled everything from dancing to scuba diving, gradually turning into a callous, if world-savvy, existentialist.
On the more journalistic side, we ran editorial cartoons poking fun at not being able to dance, we wrote satirical articles about the joy of innocence against the backdrop of the world's problems, and we offered up pseudo-serious articles about the installation of sidewalks and traffic lights on campus. But most notably, there were several students on the O & B staff who liked to write and were good at it, and they were featured as columnists. These included Nelda Hill and Ben Greene, both of whom have contributed articles to SouthernReader.
Also, at some point, I had written a parody to try and capture the smalltown college ambiance of fall and football that we loved so much. I had all but forgotten the details until about a month ago, when I unearthed a yellowed copy of the story. I had written it in September of '73, and I originally inverted the numbers, setting the story in '37 and called it "A 1937 Football Story." We thought that it would be a kick, so to speak, to run it in this issue of SouthernReader, thirty years later.
As for Carson-Newman College, it has gone on to greater things. This autumn they will celebrate the 20th anniversary of their football team's first National Championship. They have also flourished academically--the school has recently been selected by U.S. News and World Report as "One of America's Best Colleges 2003." And, they gave me some wonderful gifts--a unique and well-rounded education, a lifetime supply of the best friends anyone could ever hope for, and a special place in my memories, full of football games and golden leaves, where I can travel every autumn.
|E-Letters to the Editor Our readers weigh in and talk back.
A 1937 Football Story A '37 football parody, written in '73 about a college called Lapel Tech and their dethroned hero, Jimmy Ringley. It's smalltown college football the way it never really was.
Getting Hosed Currently a resident of Seoul, Korea, Brett Reichert recalls what it was like growing up in south Georgia with the cheap, green thrills of a Woolworths garden hose.
What is Practical Spirituality? Writer/Musician David Clark examines the reality and seeming contradictions of matters of the air.
The Holiday Inn of Last Resort Regular columnist Nelda Hill's down-and-dirty account of a short-order cook and a motel on the brink.
©Copyright 2003 David Ray Skinner/SouthernReader. All rights reserved.