Saturday, February 28, 2015

Exploring My Future College Life-snippet 128

Our shiny blue and gold bus was brought around to the parking lot off the gym exit door.   Students were starting to gather with their luggage when I walked up.  It was a mixture of students as the interscholastic meet encompassed a wide variety of disciplines and activities.  I was the odd member, hitching a ride.  After the luggage was stored everyone filed onboard.  I sought a seat next one of my friends, Chuck Klunder.  It was going to be a long ride and I wanted someone to talk to about what I was planning to do.  I hadn’t told my school mates about the offer to go to EWCE with a scholarship.  I wanted it to be finalized before the word spread.     I knew when I left the bus in Missoula and boarded the train there would be questions raised.

Chuck and I visited all the way to Missoula about a wide variety of things, but mainly, “what happens after high school”.  Chuck wasn’t sure what he would be doing, but was thinking of going into the service and take advantage of their training or college package when he finished his service. It looked like the draft board might be calling young people to join the Korean maneuver.  He would rather enlist in the branch of the service he chose than be stuck in the infantry.  The Air force always appealed to him.

The bus swung into the parking lot of the Missoula railroad depot.  Coach Racicot, one of the chaperones for travel to the Missoula meet, helped me with my suitcase and with a few final instructions; he shook my hand and wished me luck. I thanked him and headed for the depot door, feeling the questioning eyes from those on the bus.  It was evening and I had a short wait for my train; just enough time to find something to eat.  The food service in the terminal looked appetizing, so I grabbed a prepackaged sandwich and a can of pop.  On second thought I added a cookie.  After paying I found an empty, fairly clean booth and sat down to enjoy my dinner.  As I sat sipping on the soda, I watched the others in the terminal to sense if they were getting ready to board the train.  Finally I found the ticket window and asked the fellow behind the desk when the train to Spokane came in?  He checked his schedule and replied it would be there in about fifteen minuets.

Leaving Missoula after dark made it hard to see the landscape, so I settled down for some sleep.  I enjoyed a train ride.  The sound of the wheels on the rails was enough to put me to sleep.  When we came back from visiting Dad we rode the train from Seattle to Miles City.  That was a long trip, so even though we left Seattle at night, it was a full day before we arrived at Miles City, giving us plenty of time to view the landscape.  This train was scheduled to get into Cheney early in the morning with plenty of daylight.  As I drew closer to the meeting with Coach Red Reese, my apprehensions grew.  I tried to assure myself it would turn out fine and as the wheels played their rhyme I fell asleep.
The sun was shining brightly as the train pulled up to a little depot. I checked to be sure; yes, it said Cheney.  Scrambling down from the car, I grabbed my bag and stepped away from the train as it moved forward.  No other passengers got off.  From the look of things this wasn’t a busy destination.  The depot was on the edge of the small town of Cheney which spread across the highway and up the hill.  A main street ran up the hill with comfortable looking homes on each side.  There were large shade trees along the street making it look inviting. I noticed an unfamiliar sickening sweet smell from the moment I stepped from the train.  It made me want to check my deodorant.   I assumed it must be some plant, tree or bush that was in bloom.                                                                                                          


  Coach, William B. (Red) Reese                                                                                             
I had Coach Reese’s address and he was expecting me, so I trudged up the hill to his door.   When he answered I could see why they called hem “Red”.  He was a husky man with a rosy, freckled face and a pleasant grin.  I would guess he might be in his fifties.  His wife invited me to have breakfast and pointed me toward the bath room to freshen up.  Their children had already eaten and were going to school.  The boy, with hair as red as his dad’s, kept eyeing me, obviously surprised by my height.  Red set with me at the table and kept asking a steady stream of questions as I ate hot cakes and bacon his wife served me.

Red drove me to the campus and around various buildings to give me an orientation to the facilities.  He then dropped me off at Sutton hall to secure a room that I would use while on campus.  He asked me to be at the gym for a workout as soon as that detail was finished. 

Sutton Hall was the dorm where the athletes stayed.  I checked in at the down stairs office where the dorm manager had been alerted that I wanted a room for a couple days.  He found a room for me on the second floor.

While putting things away I continued to analyze what I had seen of the campus with Coach Reese.  Coach Racicot had told me he had a temper, so be cautious around him until you know him.  It was a beautiful campus with large trees and various types of shrubs.  It was so different and would take some getting use to. I didn’t want to be in trouble with the coach, so I hustled quickly to the gym.

*Taken from "Which Road Should I Follow?, Volume 1, Growing up in the country", an autobiography by Edwin K. Hill.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

What Comes Next?-snippet 127

I think writing about my life and progression through time calls on my memory to pull back those events and the detail of the time.  More than I ever realized, this process has brought greater understanding of the struggle I was going through as I sought the road I should be taking.  I have alluded to the strong commitment I had to family and the role I felt destine to play in operation of the ranch.  My involvement had increased markedly over the past few years as Grandpa felt I was capable.  This fed my confidence and feeling of self worth but with the counter effect of limiting my hope for continuing my education.  You can see this was a conflict in my life, similar to others I had faced and will be experienced as I travel through life.  This gives meaning to the title, "Which Road Should I Follow?"

What comes next?  Do I join Mary at the junior college and after two years see what kind of job I can find?  I might have to drop out a year or so and work to earn money to attend JC.  I was heading down the hall one day when Coach Racicot stopped me and asked if I would stop by to see him when I was free.  I said I had a class, but when it was over I had free time.  I wondered what he wanted to see me about.  Was there something else I needed to do before I graduated?

I entered coach’s office and slipped into a chair.  He was finishing an advising session with a student.  As the student left, coach turned to me and asked quizzically, “What do you have planned for next year?”  I reviewed my thinking about Junior College or the need to get a job.  “Do you want to go to college and are you thinking about a major?” he asked.  I responded that I wanted to go to college because there was so much to learn and I hadn’t been able to decide on what I would choose as a major yet.  I had thoughts about engineering, but that took more education than I could get at the Junior College. 

“Would you mind going away to college or are you needed on the ranch?’ he asked.  I was beginning to wonder what all the questions were about.  It must have shown in my face, for he quickly added, “I was just checking to see what planning you’ve done.  I have a basketball scholarship to my Ala mater that could be yours if you wanted to attend Eastern Washington College.  EWC is located in Cheney, Washington, a few miles from Spokane.

My heart was racing and thoughts were spinning through my head.  I finally found my voice. “I don’t know what to say.  I would love to play basketball in college, but do you think I would be good enough?  How much money would it cost?  When would I start?”  The questions came tumbling out.  The coach was smiling.  He could see his proposal had blown me away.

The next hour was spent in discussing the details.  I would need to go to Cheney and visit the college, talk to the coach there and get a feel for the offer.  The scholarship provided board and room on campus.  There was a text book allowance and I would be assigned a job helping to maintain facilities.  During the basketball season I would be assigned to the fireman squad.  My job was to check fire extinguishers once every month and attend a meeting or two.  Coach Racicot explained he had started college at Montana State University and then transferred to Eastern Washington College where he received his B. A. degree.  The basketball coach, Red Reese, had a good record in the Evergreen Conference and had excellent facilities to work with.  Other than that, it was up to me to access the opportunity while on the trip to the college.  Coach advised me to go over details with Mom and maybe Grandpa if I felt it was best.  He added, if I was interested in the opportunity the trip could be planned to coincide with the interscholastic meet at Missoula.  The high school bus would be taking students to participate in that event and I could ride along as far as Missoula and then catch the train to Cheney.  I would stay a day or two and then come back to Miles City on the train.

I thanked the coach and left his office amazed.  How could things change so greatly in just a few short hours?  I wondered what Mom would think, and what about Grandpa?  If he was thinking I would be back on the ranch full time after high school graduation, this was going to be a major shift for his thinking.  This was Friday and we would be going to the ranch the next day, so the situation needed to move rapidly toward decisions.  I was extremely excited about going to college on a scholarship.  I hurried home as quickly as I could to tell Mom.

Grandpa took it better than I thought he would.  Maybe I had been over valuing my role on the ranch.  I was pleased when Grandpa indicated he wanted me to make the most I could out of my life.  I gave them all as much information as I had and of course Grandma, Mom and my sisters were supportive.  I worked on the ranch as hard as I could that week end.  I wanted them to know I felt a part of the ranch.  As I looked around, recognizing the change that would be taking place, I seemed to see my life in slow motion.  I was happy, excited and apprehensive all at the same time.  Little did I know there were other surprises to come.  When I returned to school I let the coach know all had gone well and the family was supportive of the opportunity for me.  That meant I would be making the trip to Cheney in a few weeks. 

It was a warm Saturday morning as I worked on the grain drill we were planning to use to plant wheat.  I looked up from my task to see a car making its way slowly down our country road.  It wouldn’t be a local person driving that carefully, I thought.  As the car passed the shop I could see there was a man driving who didn’t look familiar.  He stopped at the house and went to the front door.  I couldn’t see what transpired, but he soon came back to his car, turning it around to head out.  To my surprise when he arrived at the shop he stopped, got out and headed my way.  He introduced himself and asked if I was Edwin Hill.  I assured him I was and asked what I could do for him.  He said he was an alumnus of Gonzaga University and had been asked to contact me on behalf of the University Athletic Department.  He lived in Bozeman and was making contact with several graduating seniors to see if they were interested in playing basketball for Gonzaga.  He indicated there was a scholarship available.

I couldn’t believe it.  Two offers in a week.  This must be the season for such contacts and the reason I was getting contacted was due to my height.  I invited him to sit down on a stool, and he proceeded to present the offer.  The University was a private school in the city of Spokane.  They had a good sized student body and offered liberal arts and technical studies.  They were a catholic school, but you didn’t have to be a catholic to attend.  Several religious classes were required.

I asked if they offered engineering and what the scholarship covered.  They did have engineering studies and the scholarship covered room and board during the school year.

I asked if there were funds for text books and he said not presently, but he felt he could work something out.  He acknowledged that books, particularly technical books were very expensive.  We talked further and then I told him I had accepted another offer.  He wasn’t pleased to hear that, but wanted me to look over the material he had given me and think it over.  He could be reached at a Miles City hotel until noon on Monday if I changed my mind.  With that we said goodbye and he headed his car back out our dusty country road.

I looked over the Gonzaga University material and talked to the family about the offer.  There was general agreement that I should pursue the first offer, the scholarship to Eastern Washington College.  I felt comfortable with our decision and started to adjust my tinking and planning toward the visit to Cheney.

*Taken from "Which Road Should I Follow?, Volume 1, Growing up in the country", an autobiography by Edwin K. Hill.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The process of recreational writing

In my tenure as an educator I have encountered numerous varied examples of the written word and responded in like kind.  Most of this was quite technical because of my specialization in the industry and technical fields.  Sense retirement I have become interested in what I've dubbed "recreational writing".  In preparation for this post, a superficial scan of Wikipedia was conducted to verify my terminology for Recreational Writing.  Perhaps I should be using Creative Writing as the category for my work as it can technically be considered any writing of original composition.  I liked the further clarification of creative writing as a composition of any type of writing at any time primarily in the service of such needs as:
1. the need for keeping records of significant experience,
2. the need for sharing experience with an interested group, and
3. the need for free individual expression which contributes to mental and physical health.

I like that third need as I contend most of us could stand a little help with our physical and mental health.  In working on my two books I got tremendous pleasure in seeing them come together.       The first book, "Unique Vessels:  How Do You Make Those Things", was more of a creation by the numbers.  I outlined and photographed each step in the construction of one of my vessels.  There was related material in the front of the book dealing with the history of development of this type vessel and a number of pages at the end that gave technical information on materials and processes.  The Mexican Bird of Paradise bush provided the wood for my vessel.  The image below shows the bird-like shape of the finished product.  It was a thrill to see the completed book and vessel.

The second book was a different experience entirely.  This was the first volume of my
autobiography,"Which Road Should I Follow? Volume 1, Growing Up In The Country".  It has been published and is out on book shelves now as I work on "Volume 2, Roles And Responsibilities Of An Educator"  To write a story that chronicles your progress through life is an awesome experience, one I wouldn't trade  for anything.  The sensation of remembering details, such as sounds, smells and people from that time long ago is reward enough if the book doesn't succeed.  The cover of Volume 1 is shown below.

*An inproved, new format.  Be watching for further news from Apatchablue Studio.  Questions and comments are welcome!