Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Back to College as a Sophmore

I listened to the familiar rhythm of the train as it sped further and further from my home.  It had been a good summer vacation; a special summer to visit and work.  I felt healthy and ready to go to work on the basketball court and in the classrooms.  I was looking forward to all the activity and friends.  Little did I realize the potential for change that lay ahead of me.
Sutton Hall was buzzing with all the new residents.  My room mates, Tom Plant and Les Grear were back, but George Kelb had chosen to join his buddies in another room.  It was good to see my two roomies and catch up on what was going on in their lives.  Les was out for football again this season.  Tom was looking ahead to his graduation in 1954.  He needed to make certain he would have all the requirements fulfilled with the credits he had transferred in from his other college experience or courses that would be offered at EWC in the correct sequence.  It sounded complicated and I wondered if I would have much trouble.  I wasn’t transferring in credits from another college

The hustle and bustle of college start-up wasn’t as hectic this year.  I was used to the process and my schedule was laid out, so I had time to look into other details such as my job this year.  I was told it would be in the field house, but not the locker room.  I was grateful.  The head janitor would lay out my duties when I saw him.

I headed to the field house to confirm my job assignment for fall quarter.  Red was there and we had a short visit.  He indicated there were a number of new players on the varsity and not all from the B squad.  He wanted me to spend time in the gym on basics such as free throws and dribbling the ball.  He knew my weaknesses.  He also mentioned a picture session was set for later in the month.  He would let me know.  He complemented me on my physical shape and said there wouldn’t be a need for the sweat box this year.  I was pleased the hard summers work had paid off. 

My new job was vacuuming the swimming pool and keeping the deck clean.  I couldn’t believe I had such a great job.  In contrast to cleaning the locker room during muddy season this job was a snap.  There was one catch.  Once each quarter the furnace that heated all the water in the building had to be cleaned.  To do this the furnace was shut down and a brush shaped like a large bottle brush was run through each of several dozen pipes in the boiler.  When in operation heated air was forced through these pipes.  Over time soot would build up and cause inefficiency in the system.  The person using the long handled brush would end up covered with soot.  This was only required once each quarter, so I could handle that.

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

Monday, March 30, 2015

Moving In Different Directions

Time came for Mary to move to her school.  Grandpa and I went along to help her with the move.  I don’t recall her having had a great many belongings.  It seemed as if we drove some distance to get there and I imagine Mary must have felt it was the end of the earth.  The school house sat alone on the side of the road without a ranch house in sight.  We learned later the school was constructed so it could be skidded to other locations as the demographics of the country changed.  This enabled the school to be placed near where children attending lived. 

It seemed like such a lonely location and I felt bad for my sister as we drove away, leaving her there alone.  If anyone could make a go of it, Mary would.  This was another very obvious indication that our family was moving in different directions now.  In a few days I would leave for my second year of college and Dorothy would be starting her sophomore year at Custer County High School.

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

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Together at the Ranch

I decided to go into town and spend time with Mom and Mary.  There were things that needed doing around Mom’s home.  I took cedar posts and a few short 2 x 4’s along to make a yard fence.  I would buy the woven wire needed in town.  Mom was hopeing to grow flowers and possibly a patch of grass next to the house.  Grass makes it seem cooler and there are days in a Miles City summer that you would try anything to lower the temperature.  Mom had planted a few trees around the house and they were starting to get some size.  The soil had a high amount of clay, but things seemed to grow better than one would imagine.  When we first bought the land it was an alfalfa field with a good crop.  It was irrigated when in production, but the ditches were closed when parcels sold.  The year we worked on Mom’s house, Grandpa’s acre had a fair crop of alfalfa.  Grandpa loaded the horse drawn mowing machine in the truck and transported it to town.  He hooked it up behind the truck and pulled it around his acre of alfalfa.  I think he mashed down more than he cut.  We shocked it and when dried, hauled it to the ranch.

I set the cedar posts and made two gates with the 2” x 4”s.  It gave Mom a sizeable side yard on the west and it extended around to the north end of the house.  The woven wire was fine enough to keep most critters out.  The gates were covered with the same wire.  Mom had an old lawn mower that she used to cut her area of lawn.  She planned to grow flowers and bushes along the fence.  To see her progress when I visited years later was impressive.  She was a hard worker and enjoyed seeing things grow.  It was good exercise for her, an added bonus.  Her little house looked inviting.

While in town we visited Aunt Ethel and Danny, her husband.  They were doing well in the same house I remembered, The smell of Clorox was in the air as she had been washing cloths,   All of their children were out of the house and on their own.  Several of the boys still worked in the railroad yards.  We had a good visit and caught up on everyone’s activities.  Aunt Ethel was surprised how we kids were spreading around; going to school and teaching.  Mary explained that she had finished a summer school session that would give her the certificate required to teach in the rural schools.  She had a contract to teach north of town that fall.

It was Friday and I planned to return to the ranch that afternoon.  Mom and Mary were free until Monday so rode along with me.  We swung by the post office to pick up mail and headed for the Hill’s, as we liked to put it.  It was perfect weather to get out and enjoy the first signs of fall.  Grandpa thought we might be able to catch fish in the river where Spring Creek emptied in.  That meant we would need to go down a very steep road before we got to the railroad bridge.  We could take the truck to the flat where the steep road began and it required the horses and wagon from then on.  We had done this when getting railroad ties from up the river past Spring Creek.

 The plan was to take the truck with our supplies and people down to the flat.  The wagon and team rendezvoused with everyone on the lower flat, and all supplies were transferred to the wagon.  Grandpa chained the wheel and offered a ride, but had no takers.  The rest of us scrambled down the
steep grade as best we could aided with walking sticks and holding on to each other.

Once on the lower flat, the ladies decided it looked safe, so climbed on board the wagon.  We kids walked along looking for interesting rocks or flowers.  As we got close to the railroad, Grandpa pointed out a spot on the hillside that had been leveled out.  He told us there had been a shack there. Apparently there had been a lot of drinking in the area, and when a bottle of whiskey was finished it had been set on the bank for target practice.  Broken bottles were every where.  Grandpa figured it most likely had been railroad men working on the track when it was laid through the area,

Our fishing wasn’t good, but we had a wonderful picnic and fun exploring up and down the river bank.  Grandpa took the team up Spring Creek a short distance so that they wouldn’t be frightened by a train.  Since the event by Dixon Creek, where the team was frightened as a train passed with a great deal of steam, smoke and noise had been so disastrous.  They had run away and Grandpa wasn’t going to take chances this time.  There was plentiful grass along the creek where they were staked.  One train did come along, and the horses paid little attention.  They were too busy eating.  When we were ready to go home, Grandpa gave the horses a drink out of the river.  As we walked back past the “broken bottle drinking place,” I resolved to return there some day with a metal detector to see if any treasures were hidden under the dust of years gone by.  I did that years later, but found nothing.  As we retraced our steps home, I had a feeling this might be the last time we would go on an outing together.  It was fun and created a pleasant memory. 

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

Summer Work

Uncle Edson his wife, Arlene and daughtor,Lynn visited the ranch during the summer.  They took their time and drove from California.  Lynn was young at the time and it was a good sightseeing trip for her.  Being in the country on a ranch was exciting for her.  Dorothy and I showed her around.  

While they were at the ranch the Martins invited us down to watch branding and have a picnic lunch.  It was extra fun for those of us who helped by wrestling the stock to be branded.  After working in the sun during the morning it felt good to sit in the shade and have lunch.  Lynn had grown since we last saw her and she was very interested in ranches.  Mary missed our outing as she was finishing a required summer class, so she could start her first teaching job in the fall. 

I wanted to get coal and wood in before going to college but those weren’t good jobs for hot weather.  The wood was a combination of cottonwood from the river and cedar pulled from the canyons.   We set up a buzz saw and cut a huge pile of cottonwood.  Making firewood from cedar began with grandpa and me on the ends of a crosscut saw.  The big blocks had to be split with an axe.  Small limbs were left for grandpa to work on in cooler weather.

The trip to get coal brought back memories of the many other times we had traveled into the hills for our winter’s fuel.  This time we took the truck to haul the coal and a light wagon and scraper pulled by the mules.  It was a good opportunity to give them another work out.  Grandpa preferred to take the team and wagon, so I drove the truck.  Grandma and Dorothy rode along in the truck.   We had packed a picnic lunch as reward for our hard labor.  Grandpa arrived soon after us.  His mule team stepped along making good time.  Using them on the scraper was a new experience, so grandpa held the lines and I worked the scraper.  The only part of the operation that bothered Jack and Judy was the dumping of the scraper.  It flopped over to dump the dirt and the mules seemed to think it was coming after them.  After a few rounds of dumping, they got used to it and all went smoothly.
Grandpa tied the mules firmly to the wagon that was parked around the corner of the hill from the blast site.  All the blast procedures were completed and grandpa lit the fuse.  The dull thud shook the hillside and sent dirt cascading over the coal bank we had just exposed with the scraper. Once again the mules were hooked to the scraper to clear away the dirt.  The mules took the blast well with just a curious gaze in the direction of the noise and dust.

The blast was a good one, loosening a large section of good coal.  When the dirt was cleared and the mules tied to the wagon we decided to lunch before loading the truck.  We had some butter sandwiches made with Grandma’s home made bread and some fried chicken.  Dorothy had made ice tea and the picnic was complete with Grandma’s sugar cookies.  It was difficult to jump right up and work after the lunch, but the coal had to be loaded and we wanted to get home before dark.

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

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Summer Vacation on the Ranch

I had survived my first year of college and was on the way home for a wonderful long summer with my family and real work.  I would spend most of the time on the ranch, but would get into town to see Mom and do repairs for her.  Mom had a job at the Veterans Hospital and she worked most week days.  When she came to the ranch on week ends we would do family things as usual like picnics, fishing or hunting agates.

It took a couple days to shake off college thinking and become immersed in things at the ranch.  I noticed many things weren’t done, such as planting all the fields.  Grandpa couldn’t get all of the work completed without help.  He would turn 77 this Christmas day.  Grandma seemed to be the same energetic person, but the years were catching up with her too.  It made me sad, and again I felt guilty about leaving the ranch to go to college.  I tried to develop a scenario in my mind that might correct the situation.  One thought was, I would find a teaching job in Miles City and spend my free time at the ranch.  I wasn’t sure how much free time an Industrial Arts instructor would have, or if a job opening would be available when I was ready.  There were many questions that couldn’t be answered now.  I would have to keep progressing with my current plan, with an eye out for opportunities that might help my family.

The years had passed since we took the mares down to Bob Martin’s Jack.  The two mule colts had grown and developed into handsome animals.  It was time to break them to work.  The male was named Jack and the female Judy.  Not the most original names, but it worked and Grandpa was proud of his mules.  The first step was to get them used to the harness and then the wagon.  The big round coral was used while they were harnessed.  That seemed to go alright.  Grandpa had been working with then quite a bit already. 

It was best to put one mule and one of our older calm workhorses together for the first wagon ride.  Grandpa chained one of the back wheels, so it would drag and give a load for the team to pull.  When the team was hooked to the wagon, Grandpa would get aboard with the lines and I would let go of the mules bridle.  Grandpa would head them out into the prairie away from obstacles and give them their head.  The mule would kick up and run off sideways while the old work horse just plodded along in disgust.  Finally the mule would straighten out and start pulling the load.  All the dancing caused the mule to sweat profusely and by the end of a long trip the animal was totally exhausted.  Over the next couple days, both mules had multiple turns with the wagon which was eventually unchained to run freely.  Next was the big test to work both mules together.  Many wagon trips followed on all types of errands and sometimes just for the trip.  Grandpa now had a working mule team.

That wasn’t enough however.  Grandpa wanted to break Judy to ride. He thought this would be convenient in many cases, so we started the riding lessons with me as the rider.  Grandpa on Darkie held Judy’s head while I held the rains to her bridle.  We started without incident and took a long ride.  I think because we worked Judy in the team she wasn’t too alarmed by her new role.  No doubt, she wondered what I was going to do on her back, but as we continued with the ride she acted as if this was old stuff.

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

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Spring Quarter

As basketball finished the schedule, the varsity’s four conference victories weren’t enough to qualify for post season play.  The B squad had a break-even season in which I felt I grew in confidence and ball handling ability.

Eastern’s spring sports included swimming, tennis, baseball and track.  Red coached track and he advised all basketball players to sign up.  It was his spring fitness program for next year’s team.  He had us running laps every day.  I wished he would have given us part of that time working on weights.  I felt that was part of my problem.  I couldn’t jump as high as most of the players.  I talked it over with the trainer, Ed Pillings, and he said he would talk to Red about it.  Nothing came of it as the end of spring quarter was near, and I was soon off to Montana for the summer where weight meant pitching hay, loading ties or chopping wood.
Spring quarter classes focused on science, physical science and earth science to be specific.  I had a third quarter of English composition and a fun I. A. class, wood turning.  I remember my wood turning in farm shop in high school.  This course was much more in depth.  Finally, I had Track and Baseball Rules and Officiating, a class to go along with my track PE class.

All grades were B’s except a C in physical science which surprised me.  I was glad to see the English grade back up.  These grades put me on the Freshman Honor Roll.

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

Monday, March 23, 2015

Sweetheart Ball

Each winter the freshmen class sponsored a Sweetheart Ball.  The queen of the ball was voted for by the entire freshman class.  The top seven vote recipients have pictures taken that are sent to a modeling agency in Portland, Oregon.  There judges view the pictures and send back their choice for Queen of the freshman Sweetheart Ball.

The Associated Student Body President announces the Queen at the intermission of the ball.  The ceremony of escorting the queen to her throne and crowning her then follows with the princess standing, as her court on either side.  Pictures are taken and the Queen signals for the dancing to continue. 

I thought it was a very nice process and it was reviewed by the press as “the loveliest ball of the year”.  It gives the freshmen a chance to feel important as a class in the eyes of the other students. 

It’s quite obvious that if a student came to Eastern to have fun, there was a non-stop agenda to choose from.  It would be difficult however, to maintain a grade point that the college would except without the student showing some restraint.  A balance of fun and study was recommended.

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

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Winter at EWC

As the winter quarter started, I encountered several courses I had little or no background in.  They were Speech Fundamentals and General Psychology.  I also had a second English Composition course.  These three made up my tough core of classes.  The Industrial Arts classes were enjoyable and I let Mr. Collins know I would have to withdraw from choir, because of the conflicts with basketball.  He understood and wished me well.  All basketball players signed up for basketball as a one credit Physical Education class taught by Red Reese.  I worked hard and at the end of the quarter I received two C’s and a B in the tough trio.  To my surprise the B grade came in General Psychology.  The rest of my grades were A’s.  I still have the horse head book ends I made in Industrial Arts 145.  I gave them to Mom and after her death they came back to me.  I was having the time of my life in the Industrial Arts classes.  Looking ahead I could see classes in the schedule that I had difficulty wait for.  It was fun taking the class with my friend, Tom Plant, as he was creative, and we would get into great discussions about our projects. 

Tom had been asked to join Epsilon Pi Tau, an Industrial Arts honorary.  The purpose of EPT was to keep members abreast of latest developments in methods and machinery through field trips to the industrial areas of  Spokane. This seemed like an important group to become a part of if I planned to teach industrial Arts.  Tom said I would be asked to join after I had taken more classes.  Tom would graduate in 1954, so he was ahead of me with most of his course work. 

We had a big snow that transformed the campus into a winter wonder land.  In this picture the street shown runs past the front of Sutton Hall.  The building seen through the trees, on the right past the parking lot, is the Industrial Arts building.  It was close and convenient to my dorm.  It was an old building and crowded.  Soon after I graduated they built a new, larger facility by the field house.

When it snowed, there were some royal snowball fights.  It was usually one dorm against another.  I thought I had ruined my throwing arm during one fight.  It lasted late into the night.  Of course there were snow men and snow girls constructed around the campus.  Some girl creations were quite curvaceous.

I learned by observation to never leave your dorm window open in snowball season.  The fellows of Sutton Hall had no reservation about filling a room with snowballs and everyone tried their aim at an open window.  Fortunately my room was on the side of the building with only an alley running below, so there was little traffic there.

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

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Home For Christmas

Red must have been watching me and decided I was homesick with the holidays coming on.  I was feeling a little low because it looked like there wouldn’t be enough of a break in the basketball activity to allow my traveling home.  The varsity had a tour of preseason games scheduled over the holidays and the B squad would only take a couple days off at Christmas, so that didn’t give me enough time to travel to Montana.  Red approached me with an offered to give a couple extra vacation days on either side of the B squad break providing I would settle down when I returned and play smart ball.  I took him up on the offer, but wondered since if it slowed down my movement to varsity.  I think Red was wise to see how I felt and realize a few days at home would do more for me than the practice time.

The train ride was familiar by now, but seemed slow.  I imagine the shortness of my leave from campus had something to do with my impatience.  I received a warm welcome at home and told them all about life at college and playing basketball.  They were surprised at the shortness of my vacation, so I broke it to them that if I were on the varsity, I would be in southern California playing basketball on a tour that would last most of the holidays.  In reality it looked like I wouldn’t be returning home before summer break in the future and that would be all.  That was a sobering thought for all of us, but I wanted to tell them now so we could adjust to it.  The rest of my days home were filled with fun and activity.  We had the Christmas tree as usual and card games at night.  I looked at every thing differently now.  I didn’t want to waste a minute of being with my family and I was proud of all of them.  Fortunately the weather was good and the trip back into town uneventful.  I allowed one extra day to travel back to school in case there was a problem.  I used some of my home time doing a few maintenance things around Mom’s house.

I was back on the train heading to my new world, which I was beginning to like, but I couldn’t help but think it would be summer before I would see my family again.  My home time had gone quickly, but I felt renewed; just what I had needed.  I thought of Red’s words, “Settle down when you return and play smart ball”.  I promised myself I would try with all my might to do just that.  If I didn’t show Red some improvement, he would have less faith in me and I didn’t want to get into that situation.

Practice with the B squad was grueling after my holiday and the coach started me on a sweat box routine to help me shed a few pounds.  My increased intensity of play helped get me in shape and didn’t go unnoticed by Red.

When the basketball season started a familiar face had appeared.  Larry Price was one of the fellows that gave me the Spokane tour last spring when I visited EWC for the first time.  Now he was a sophomore and had moved up to the varsity from the B squad.  As I recall he was from Oregon.  I lost track of him, as he didn’t survive on the varsity for long.  I wonder what happened to the girl I was with on the Spokane tour.  I watched, but never did see her in all the students on campus.  The other fellow with us on the tour must have gone another direction as he never surfaced.  That’s life, always full of changes.  It made me wonder what would have happened had I taken Gonzaga’s offer.  When they played Eastern they had some big men.  The striped stockings they wore made them look even taller.  They had a good team that was hard to beat.

Eastern vs. Gonzaga

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

Easternm Was the Right Decesion For Me

I’m not one to get caught up in “what If” because you can’t do any thing about it after the fact.  I still think I made the right decision about schools.  I liked the Eastern campus and after I decided on my major this school was the logical one in which to pursue my studies.  I made life long friends and we have done things together that created many memories.  The guys on the teams that played and shared good times and bad with me will always be remembered.
My room mate, Tom Plant and I have enjoyed special experiences that will stay as memories with me.

One thing Tom instigated was our day old bread and pastry business.  On Sunday the dining hall served breakfast and lunch only.  We bought
day old goodies from the bakery down town at reduced prices.  Everyone in the dorm missed Sunday dinner, so they were prime targets for our sale.  We made enough by increasing the prices a little to pay for the share we ate and cover all costs.  Finally word of mouth got the business going better than we wanted with all the hassle of buying and distributing the food, so we closed.

My job on the firemen squad replaced the locker room beat.  When you are playing a sport you’re placed on the firemen squad.  We checked the fire extinguishers on campus and attended safety meetings.  It was a far cry from mopping the floor in the locker room.  This lasted all winter quarter and spring quarter the job reverted back to a cleaning assignment.  With my winter quarter work hours, I actually had time to get involved in some of the campus activities.  Every Wednesday evening a college band would play for a dance called “a mixer,” held in the activity room in Showalter Hall.  It was one hour of Glen Miller music.  Afterward couples would walk down to a popular main street malt shop.  I didn’t dance often, but enjoyed watching and listening to the music.  It was a good change of pace and there was plenty of time to hit the books after the dance. 
There were many activities sponsored by various clubs, classes and instructional programs.  One music event I attended was a performance by world famous master of the Spanish guitar, Andrea Segovia.  His performance was wonderful.  The drama department produced several plays during the year and there were several major balls.  I didn’t attend many activities due to lack of interest, time, wardrobe and finances.

There were many things about the campus that I thought interesting, particularly a story that went with the following photo.  A statue of Sacajawea stood in the main downstairs rotunda of Showalter Hall.  She was more or less the mascot of the college when the teams were called Savages.  One day Eastern students and staff noticed she was gone.  The word got around of seeing her by the front gate, and sure enough as this  photo shows, she was there. 

 This was reported in the college newspaper:
“Sacajawea went for a stroll down “hello” walk and ended at the entrance.  Rumor has it that several Whitworth students accompanied the fair maid in her walk"  After political correctness and renaming of the teams as Eagles, I’m not sure what happened to Sacajawea, but I hope she still stands in the rotunda                                                                             

Whitworth College , a private college located in Spokane, and EWC were rivals.There was always something going on between the two schools.  The favorite heist was Eastern’s victory bell.  When the savages won a game the bell was rung well up into the night by assigned freshmen.  Whitworth students had also been known to paint a big W in the football field                                                                                  .                                                         
just before a game. One special custom that was established many years earlier was 
“hello” walk.  A walkway leading from the front entrance pillars to the main entrance to Showalter Hall was named, “hello”.  As people passed each other on this walk the custom encouraged them to exchange the greeting: HELLO.                     

Another cute idea was the kissing rock.  It was slightly off the beaten path.  The idea was if you got a girl to sit in your lap on kissing rock you would be rewarded with a kiss.  In the environment with those young hearts it is only natural that numerous engagements began this way

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


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

B Squad Basketball

This began to sound like high school basketball all over again.  Red had been working with his players from last year and brought in new players a few at a time.  He did a great deal of planning and came to the conclusion I needed more playing time, so assigned me to the B squad.  Red had three seniors and two juniors from last years team to give him the starting experience he needed.  Two sophomores, both moving up from the B squad gave the team some extra height.  One was 6’ 5’ and the other 6’ 6 1/4’, I understood how Red was thinking and I knew I needed the experience of playing at the college level. The B squad was just the place to get that experience.  It looked as though strong effort and performance would speed up my transition to the varsity, so I was determined to give it my all. 
Our B squad coach was Cecil West, an Eastern alumni and outstanding athlete. The B squad played a few games in the area. One game I recall was played in the Chelan High School gym. We played a “pick-up” team of former Eastern graduates.  This team bested us by a few points, so it was a good game for the public to watch.  Some of the players for the opposition were from Chelan.  Gene Kelley had been on Red’s championship team in 1951.  Ron Dodge, playing on our current team, was a local boy.  It was a fun game and I was learning a great deal about college basketball.  I don’t recall why we stayed overnight in Chelan, possibly this was one game in a series we were playing in the area.  I have had many contacts with Chelan since, and it has become a special part of my life as you will learn.  Each B Squad players had their pictures taken in uniform, so if a player moved up to varsity during the year the press material would be ready.  That was encouraging as was the write up they put in the annual with my picture that year.

“Hill, a freshman from Miles City, Montana, is the biggest and tallest man on the squad.  He stands 6 ft, 7 and next year may be his big one.”  1952 Kinnikinick

The quarter was about over and the choir hit the road.  We were in the eastern part of the state singing at high schools.  It was fun and good advertisement for the college and the music department.  The music was outstanding and probably turned some student’s thoughts to attending this cool college when they graduate from high school.  The trips were tough on my schedule.  I had to miss classes and it was a hassle getting my work caught up.  In addition, Cecil West was starting to work in practice sessions with us.  I liked singing with the group, but wasn’t sure I would be able to manage it during basketball season.  In pre-registration I listed choir as one of my classes, which raised my total class hours to eighteen, the most I took any quarter at Eastern.

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

[1] Hill press clipping, p. 100, 1952  Kinnikinick.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Getting Started

Students started trickling back on campus.  Most of them had some role in the starting of the college year.  Registration was being set up in the recreation area down stairs from the auditorium in Showalter Hall.  Orientation took place in the auditorium and seemed structured similar to my high school orientation of long ago.  There was some hazing and the required frosh beanie.  Each dorm had their own way of humiliating a freshman.  Sutton Hall, being the athletic dorm required all freshmen to buy or make an initiation paddle which was signed by each upper classmen.  The signature was verified with a swat on the rump.  Some guys really lay
 into it while others barely made contact.  

Freshman registration was assisted by a counselor who tried to find out what I had in mind as a major.  I proposed engineering, but found it wasn’t possible to complete that degree at Eastern.  Course work could be taken and transferred to a University for completion of the degree.  That wouldn’t work with my scholarship, so it was obvious I needed to think of another major.  The counselor suggested I take a general set of classes the first year that would be needed for graduation in any major.  This would give me a chance to look over the offerings and talk to other students.  I agreed to do that and also expressed an interest in Choir.  I had enjoyed singing in high school and wanted to sing at the college level.  My first quarter classes definitely had a physical education slant; Six and Eight Man Football Coaching, Football Coaching, and Touch Football for physical education. The tougher classes were Health Fundamentals and English Composition.  Room mate Tom Plant talked me into taking Introduction to Industrial Arts, which was in his major.  Choir rounded out my Fall Quarter schedule.   

Finally all the paperwork was filled and I secured each professor’s signature.  In addition most of them gave me information about the text they would be using and some had a course syllabus for me. The Choir director, Leo Collins, explained that there would be a voice test to determine the level I would be singing.  He gave me the appointment for the test to be conducted in the music building.  This was a little scary.  I was nervous about singing by myself, but when it was over I was pleased to be in the Choir singing in the baritone section.

Classes started with a flurry of students running to class or for text books before they ran to class.  It was hectic and I had trouble finding some of my classrooms.  Some classes met every day while others met only on designated days.  I had to pay close attention to my schedule and allow for meals and my work at the field house.  My days became crowded.

My field house job was cleaning the men’s locker room and it couldn’t be cleaned until the football players were finished each day.  That sometimes pushed my dinner hour later, particularly when it had been raining as the football team packed in excessive amounts of mud.  I felt like standing at the door and asking them to remove their shoes as they came in.  I was convinced I had the toughest beat on campus.

It was fun to see the athletes come in with practice uniforms smudged and sweaty.  As soon as they came off they hit the laundry basket and the trainer’s assistant whisked the basket full of dirties to the laundry room and began running the washing machines.  Soon it was hot and steamy in the confined laundry room and the trainer’s assistant looked miserable.  Maybe I didn’t have the worse job on campus.

When the rain came and the mud was tracked in, all you could do was scrape up as much mud as possible and get out the mop and bucket.  It took multiple mopping over the same area with fresh buckets of water each time.  I used Pine sol in the last mop water which gave a clean, fresh smell to the locker room.  I noticed with the muddy conditions the assistant in the laundry room had additional problems getting dirt out of clothing.

The field house janitor was friendly and gave me many helpful tips.  This made the job easier and faster which I appreciated.  My dinner wasn’t too late and I could get in study time before turning in.  Sometimes a lively discussion with the roommates would interrupt my studying, but we all had work to do, so were sensitive to each other’s study needs.

I liked my room mates.  The fourth member, George Kalb was a nice guy, but tended to hang around with his buddies from Idaho.  Tom and Les had known each other from their back home experiences, so I was the newcomer in the group but that didn’t last long.  Les liked to throw a mattress on the floor and wrestle either Tom or me, or both of us in a tag team match.  He could hold up his end quite well.

These periodic matches helped get rid of any tensions there might be over classes or work.  Once, before I left the dorm room to play a basketball game the guys piled on and gave me a real tension reduction session.  It was a wonder I had enough energy left to get out on the gym floor.  I don’t recall how well I played that night.

The dorm members had access to a washing machine in the basement to do personal washing.  Sheets and linens were sent out and clean bedding was issued every two weeks.  The basement machine was a coin operated unit that bothered some, namely Tom.  He felt we were being ripped off with no other options, so he created one.  Using his electrical knowledge he wired in a plug between the motor and the coin box.  This was under the machine where it wouldn’t be noticed.  When one of us came down to wash cloths, a short extension cord was brought along to plug into the concealed outlet Tom had installed, and the other end plugged into the wall outlet.  Bypassing the coin box saved us a bit of change over time, until it was discovered by the company furnishing the machine.

As I settled into the quarter it became clear that most of the course material was not that challenging and if time was spent in my books the results would be surprising.  My English Composition class challenged me the most, but at the end of the quarter I earned a B.  The other B I received was from the football coach, Abe Poffenroth.  All other grades were A’s and that put me on the Honor Student list.  I was so proud I had to let my family know, particularly about the English grade.

During fall quarter I talked to Tom and other students about their plans for choosing a major.  Tom was planning on an Industrial Arts Education degree.  Many students I talked with were also pursuing an educational degree. Eastern was a teachers college.  In early days it had been called a Normal school, designed specifically for training teachers.  Eastern had a lab school on campus where local students in grades 1-8 were taught and observed by college students.  This was a hard decision for me.  Teaching was a long way from engineering in my mind.  I wasn’t sure I’d like being cooped up in a class room all day with kids.

I knew I needed to come to a decision on my major soon, so I could plan my classes.  I thought about high school and in particular Mr. Hoffman.  I thought he had the best job in the school.  He had a wide variety of responsibilities, not all in the class room.  He had opportunity to work around the community and state.  I didn’t know if I was interested in all the agriculture classes I would need and I was sure they didn’t offer them at Eastern.

Next my thoughts focused on Mr. Metros who had taught Industrial Arts at Washington grade school.  I had enjoyed his classes and he seemed to enjoy teaching.  The classes were exciting and contained the creative opportunity I had loved as a kid on the ranch.  Things were beginning to clear in my head.  If I could pursue the creative work I loved, share it with students and enjoy the benefits of teaching that seemed to be the best of all worlds.  As a confirmation of this plan I spent time observing the IA instructors and talking to them about their experience as a teacher.  I came away convinced this was the way to go and have never doubted my decision.

I informed the counselor of my decision and he looked relieved.  He agreed with my assessment and told me this was the school to pursue that type of degree.  He laid out courses I would need, so I could start fitting them into the quarter schedules.  He also advised me to approach one of the Industrial Arts instructors to act as my advisor from that point on.  Once the decision had been made things started to fall in place.   I felt good about my plans. 

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

Monday, March 16, 2015

First Job at College

A letter arrived for me from Eastern Washington College.  It was from Red Reese, the letter I had been expecting.  When I talked with him last spring he indicated he wanted me to come early and he would find me work on campus.  His letter suggested I come on campus the first of September.  The football players would have their first work out on September 12th and he had lined up temporary work for me until my regular work, a janitor’s beat in the field house, started.  I replied that I would be arriving on campus as suggested.  The summer was rushing past too fast.

I did some work on mom’s water system that provided running water at the kitchen sink with much less chance of problems or high maintenance, and  I started organizing things I needed to take with me.  It was frustrating to guess at what I would need, not knowing for sure what I’d be doing.  There were last minute things to do around the ranch and then it was September.  The goodbyes were hard, but filled with love and support.  I was going to miss my family.

The train ride gave me a chance to review the events of the past summer.  The rhythm of the wheels on the rails also reminded me of that first trip to Cheney and the new world exposed to me there.  It became hard to isolate my feelings about the abbreviated summer from the expectation of this very moment, my ride into the future.

It was still daylight when I arrived at the Cheney depot.  After gathering my bags I trudged up the hill past Red’s house and into Sutton Hall.  I found the hall manager and got my room assignment.  It was a four man dorm with a study area in the center and sleeping quarters on either side equipped with two man bunks.  The other three fellows would be coming in soon as they were football hopefuls.

My next stop was at EWC’s Showalter Hall where the administration offices were housed as well as some classrooms, labs and the college auditorium.  I had been told to see Marion Surbeck, the director of student employment for information about my temporary job.  Mr. Surbeck was helpful and explained the job in detail.  One of the resident facilities, Hudson Hall had been resurfaced with a shingle material during the summer and the job had been finished, but scrap material had to be picked up and hauled to the dump.  I would have one other student helping me and a truck and tools would be at our disposal.  “You can drive a truck? Mr. Surbeck asked.  I assured him I had considerable experience on my grandfather’s ranch in Montana.  The job started the next day and what seemed to me to be a mountain of paperwork needed processing before I could work for the college.  As I worked on the pages of required information Mr. Surbeck explained how this job and the other work I would do for the college would be credited to my account.  Tuition, books, room and board would all be drawn from this account.  He said the reimbursement was calculated to cover all these expenses with a small margin for unforeseen costs.  He showed me a map of the college where the truck and tools could be picked up.  When all forms were filled I received copies of every thing and a card that identified me as a EWC student.  Also, important was the meal ticket issued in my name.
Hudson hall was military type barracks as seen here photographed during the following winter.  The new siding cleaned up the look of the outside of the building, but inside it had tired plywood walls and smell of an old building.  In earlier history, Hudson was established as a dormitory for both men and women.  Currently it was used to house veterans and married couples.

The vehicle we were to use was a big Reo dump truck.  It had a two-speed rear axel and other controls not found on our old Chevy truck.  The fellow in the shop where we picked up the truck gave us a five minute lesson on how to shift and operate the dump controls.  The student who helped me had no desire to drive the truck, so I was chosen to drive.  We gathered our tools and put them in the truck.  My moment of truth had come.  I climbed up in the truck cab and it felt and looked as if I was setting on top of the world.  After a little experimentation I got it in gear and we rolled out onto the street.

Siding scraps were everywhere.  I can’t imagine how the workers got scraps scattered all over the lawn, unless they were playing Frisbee with the bigger pieces.  Our job was to load it in the truck and haul it away, so we began.  It took several days to pick up every scrap and load it in the truck.  Each evening we took our load to the dump.  We crossed the railroad tracks and headed west past the depot for a mile on a bumpy dirt road.  Dumping our load was done by following the instructions listed next to the controls.

We finished the cleanup job and were assigned to a crew moving furniture around campus.  In a sizable enterprise such as a college there always seems to be furniture on the move.  Mr. Surbeck was pleased with our work and shifted me to my regular beat in the field house.  He had me contact the regular janitor for instructions and then a tour of my assigned area followed.    Mr. Surbeck indicated it looked clean now and my responsibility was to keep it looking this way.   He noted when the football work-outs started in a day or two there would be plenty of work to do, so the best use of my time now was to meet with the janitor and become familiar with the tools and chemicals used.

Two of my three roommates had moved in as football practice approached.  They were both from small towns on the coast of Washington.  I got a kick out of the names of the towns, Mosey Rock and Silver Creek.   These towns were in a logging area and Les Greer, a freshman from Mosey Rock looked like he would make a fine football player after throwing logs around all his life.  The other room mate, Tom Plant from Silver Creek was a sophomore transferring in from a two year college on the coast.  Both of these fellows and I became good friends and we spent many hours together in college and after graduation.  

In this picture taken outside Sutton Hall, some of my friends got together for a Sunday afternoon photo shoot.  Tom plant is squatting in front with me on his left while Les Greer is standing on the right behind Tom.  Standing behind me is George Kalb, our fourth room mate.  He and a number of other students transferred to Eastern when North Idaho College closed at the end of last year.  George was a sophomore.  The other fellow standing between George and Les was just a friend that got in on the photo. Les made the football team at the guard position, but Tom did not survive the cut.  In those days the Eastern athletic teams were known as the “Savages”.  This mascot changed after I graduated, a victim of political correctness.  The teams are now known as the “Eagles.”

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

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Away To College

If I were to evaluate life changing events, attending college many miles from home and family had a profound effect on me.  Up until this time I was able to maintain membership in our family unit.  We were very close.  Even when Mary graduated from high school and enrolled in the community college she was still in the same building as Dorothy and me.  We all took some classes together such as music.  When I graduated Mary was well on her way to teaching in the rural public schools and Dorothy had years to go at CCHS.  It seemed we all went in different directions at that point, but my life at Eastern Washington College was so busy I didn’t have time to realize it.  It caught up with me as the Christmas Holidays approached.  It had always been such an important time for all of us to get together and enjoy the Christmas traditions.  I guess I was showing my feelings more than I realized, so when the coach offered to let me go home for a few days over Christmas I jumped at the chance even though it put my spot on the team somewhat in jeopardy.
So much happened during those four years it has taken about 85 pages in my book to mention the highlights.  My, the world had changed or was it just me?  

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