My First Impression ~

I rode down to Montgomery from Summerville , Georgia in the back seat of a 1946 Ford driven by James W. Watkins. He and his new bride, Foye, were from my home congregation in Summerville. (They were married the first part of that year of 1948.) I had never been so far from home as a lad of thirteen. I remember how ‘homesick’ I felt when we stopped in Sylacauga for gas and something to eat.

It was late when we arrived at the campus on Ann Street and I was surprised to learn that Ann Street was a dirt road in front of the campus. I was further surprised when I discovered an unfinished dormitory. The stairwell was not even completed. We had to use a ‘gang plank’ at the end of the building to ascend to the second floor. Not only that, the bathrooms were not ready for use and we had to use the bathroom in the Administration building and there wasn’t any electricity.

That first night a college student with red hair came to my room and asked if I had a flashlight and I said I did. He asked to borrow it in order to write his sweetheart a letter. This tall Texan in overalls took my flashlight and hung it up so it would shine down on his stationary while he was writing his love letter. I learned later that his name was Wendell Winkler and his girl friend’s name was Betty. Until he died I always reminded Wendell that he owed me two batteries. We always had a good laugh about those early years at Montgomery Bible School/College.

The next day I got my first look at the campus and was I ever surprised. When you came up Ann Street hill and turned into the driveway by brother Turner’s house you saw a two story building on the right, which was called the Home Ec building. It also served as the girl’s dormitory. There was a laundry room behind the Home Ec building. Also, there was a dwelling straight ahead which housed a faculty member and family. Behind that building was the dining hall, which was a long white building that also contained some classrooms including the chemistry room. Looking further east was a barn where brother Turner kept some cows. There was a pasture where the cows could feed and live. There was a pond located in the lower part of that pasture. Looking south across an unkempt campus you could see the Administration building, which was the only brick building on the entire campus and then there was the unfinished men’s dormitory. A university campus it was not.

Somewhere in my youth I saw pictures of college campuses that had two story brick buildings with ivy growing up the sides of them. An aerial photograph was made of the campus in the early 1960s but this was not the way the older campus appeared in the late 1940s. Oh, I was about to leave out at least one very important site on the campus and that was the red dirt basketball court. There, many games were played by students and faculty members. I don’t think any of them ever made it to the pros. And lest you think that we were not modern in the athletic department, I must mention that there was a volleyball court next to the Home Ec building.
When men/boys wanted to bathe, you had to ‘tote’ hot water from the dining hall and use the bathroom in the Administration building. Using the ‘gang plank’ from the second story of the boy’s dormitory was at least humbling for the college fellows. I had never lived ‘upstairs’ in my life. Eventually the stairs were completed, as were the two bathrooms upstairs. We did get electricity soon where we could find our way around without the use of a flashlight. We slept on army bunks that had been purchased at the H & R Point. You made every effort to obtain a couple of mattresses to make it more comfortable on which to sleep. I must say that I nearly died with a disease called ‘homesickness’, and I wanted to go home but my mother said that I should stick it out until Thanksgiving. And I did. Those were the days my friends.

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