It was actually in the spring semester that I started back at WTState. It took a few days before I started getting my money from the government in the newly passed GI Bill for Korean Veterans. I was able to pay my room in the Connors Dorm but the food was a different item. Students bought meal tickets depending on how much they wanted to eat in the cafeteria. After I had been in school in January 1954 for a month, I started running low on cash to pay for my meals. I went on an unintentional fast for about 3 days until I was rescued by my dear mother. She came up to Canyon to visit my sister and her daughter Leola and family and she asked me if I needed anything. I did not want to sound desperate but I did say that $10.00 would go a long way in helping me out. She gave me the 10 spot and after she left to spend the night with Leola, I went to the local hamburger joint and ate the largest burger I have ever eaten. Mistake!! After fasting for three days you do not want to gorge yourself. It tastes a lot better going down than coming up.
The monthly stipend of $100.00 per month came in a day or two after this episode and I started buying some meal tickets at the cafeteria. Most of the books I needed were paid for by the Government. Dorm rent at that time was about $50.00 a month. I thought about getting a part time job to help out with the expenses but the case load was too much for me to do any work. I was really pleased with the fact that I was now back in the saddle for my pre-med education. I enrolled in some Bible Classes at the Bible Chair. Many of the students remembered me from the short time I was there earlier. Finding a lifetime mate was not a high priority because of all this study. The Bible Chair social functions turned out to be a fertile ground because the young ladies loved to attend these functions. They outnumbered the boys two to one.
I did a little bit of group dating on Sunday afternoons and this was usually a trip to Palo Duro Canyon. This was a lot of fun. A lot of climbing and throwing rocks.
Note the size of the people standing at the base of the Tower!!
I was ready to get back to school. Driving the trucks for Western Company was a dirty job and long hours. It was in December 1953 that several things happened to make me get back on track for my pre-med education. There was this incident where we were out on a job pumping acid chemicals down a well to frack the formations. I was driving one of 5 trucks hooked up to the particular oil well site and the foreman asked us to start pumping our acid down at high pressure. I noticed that the valve that went to the pump on my truck was closed so I got out of the truck to turn it on and as soon as I got back in the cab of my truck my windshield broke. I did not understand why until I saw the foreman cursing at me and he had no helmet on. In anger he had thrown that lethal weapon at me.
I had received notice that the Korean Veterans were now being included in the GI Bill. Before I started back to Canyon to start my pre-med, I decided to take a trip to the Rio Grande River some friends. I left their house late at night to return to Odessa and ran smack dab into a 7 point buck. My radiator was ruined and there was no way I could drive that car and I was about 50 miles from the closest community. I started walking toward Sonora. After I had walked about one mile in the pitch black there was a vehicle approaching coming from the same direction I was traveling. They say me and offered me a ride. The also had noticed my wreck and the deer. They had the deer across the hood of their car. They dropped me off in Sonora at a small hotel and the next morning I was able to phone my dad and let him know what happened. I took a fellow out to the wreck site and he hauled my vehicle to a shop and said it would be about a week before they could fix my vehicle. I caught a bus to Lubbock and stayed with my mom and dad at the drug store until the vehicle was fixed. They went the cheep route and put a used radiator in my car. Unbeknownst to me they had installed a radiator that had several of the water compartments bypassed so I was not getting the full cooling effect. This vehicle was as problem until I finally traded in to Leo Jarmon when Bob brought his Oldsmobile to Dallas to trade for a new car. I took the Oldsmobile and gave him this Ford Coup and we were all happy. The Oldsmobile did have a fluid problem with leakage from transmission and this had to be filled about every time I gassed up.
Dad was not to helped up about helping me to pay this Ford Coup out of hock. It was going to cost me 700.00 dollars and that was not small change. I was finally able to beg him out of the money by reminding him that I sent several hundred dollars home from Korea and Japan that was spent to help Janie out. He reluctantly gave me the money and I headed back to Sonora to pick the vehicle up. I drove the vehicle to Odessa and cleaned out my small apartment and said my goodbyes. I arrived in West Texas State in Canyon in time to enroll in the Spring Semester. With the GI Bill I could also afford to live in the dorm and by a meal ticket. Books and tuition were paid for by this GI Bill.
My first roommate was A. D. Britt. He was a pre-med student and studied all the time. He was very helpful with my chemistry course. Dr. Whaley sort of assigned him to help me catch up. My chemistry at Odessa Collage was lacking and I decided to retake it at WT. Gaylord Cook and Buddy Wilson were suite mates and I got to know them very well. They both attended functions in the Bible Chair. I also was reintroduced to Johnnie Pavlovsky and Rachel Maynard. I had to take some courses at Amarillo College because WT did not have them when I was needing to take them. I took about 22 hours that fall semester.
The summer of 1953 was used up in some college credits at Texas Tech University. I needed some more foreign language. They had an interesting course in German that I signed up for. Made a C grade I think but it did get one of the requirements for medical school off the plate. I also took a course in memory training. I knew that I was going to have to take Organic Chemistry and this would help me in that regard. I even found a relief job at the Lindsey Theater and this was a job I dreamed about when I was a lowly projectionist in Morton, Texas before going into the Army. I sent all of my college credits to West Texas State and they accepted me as a Junior pre-med student. I was disappointed in the Federal Government because they had not passed a bill for the Korean Veterans at that point. The Korean Armistice had been signed in July and it looked like to me that they could have helped us GI’s out but Washington moves very slow I found out.
A week or so before my enrollment at West Texas State I packed my bags and stayed a couple of days with Leola and Gilbert Ford in Canyon, Texas. I looked for a theater projectionist job but they were unionized in Canyon and Amarillo. There was no way I could break into their union ranks so I got a hotel room in Amarillo and took a test for my chauffeurs license so I could drive a taxi. I still needed extra money to make payments on the car. I enrolled in all the appropriate courses to get my pre-med work done and started attending the functions at the Church of Christ Bible Chair. In the first function I attended there, the Bible Chair Instructor had an introductory session. He had us all sit in chairs in a circular fashion. Some of the old hands there knew what was about to happen but I was totally unaware. There was a scramble to get the first few chairs. I was close to the last chair in line. The next instruction from the leader was to the first person in line to say their name. Then the second person was to say their name and the first persons name and so on and so forth. There was a good looking young lady about in the fifth chair who said her name was Johnnie Marie Pavlovsky. My memory course was helping me to memorize these names as they repeated over and over. When it became my turn I was able to say all the names and I found out years later that the pretty lady had leaned over to her next door in chair neighbor and ask “who is that smart aleck”.
After classes started it did not take me long to realize that the taxi driving at night was incompatible with all the study that I was required to do under Dr. Whaley. I think I lasted about 2 weeks or maybe three and decided that I needed to get a job and pay off the car and build up some cash in order to continue my higher education. The chauffeurs license stood me in good stead. One of the first jobs that interested me was working for the Western Company in Odessa, Texas. I knew a little about the company and I applied there. They put me to work in my old stomping grounds. It was a hard job. We would drive these trucks loaded with acid out to an oil well site and pump the acid in the well to break up the formations. Sometimes we were on the job 36 hours at one site. Being sleep deprived and driving back to Odessa was a hazardous trip. The drivers were on call 24 hours per day. Good money but brutal.
It seems to me that the last year of school at Odessa College whizzed by. Working the projectors at night gave me a lot of time on week-ends with friends. John and Johnette were especially good friends of mine. Jimmy Johnson was close behind because we had a lot of the same classes together.
As seen from one of the pictures, we witnesses a fire in Ruidoso. The barbeque got too hot I guess. My folks house was a neat place to stay with my friends. Mother and Dad were both in Lubbock running the Drug Store at the time and they let us have the run of the place. Johnette’s mother and her two young siblings came along for the excitement.
A lot of tears were shed as we left Ruidoso. I was going to Lubbock to visit with my folks and check out enrolling in West Texas State. John and the Fultons were going back to Odessa. Johnette was not sure where she was going to finish college. Some relatives lived in Las Vegas, Nevada and she was thinking about going there but had not made a decision.
I was also going to have to go to Canyon or Amarillo and find a job to help put me through the last two years of college since the U. S. elected representatives had not decided on a GI Bill for the Korean War Veterans in 1953. The War was still going on sporadically and not armistice had been signed. I did have pretty good transportation in that Ford Coup but it also had payments on it that had to be kept up.