Saturday, September 01, 2007

Saga of the Jobs - Part 2

Where was I? Oh, yes, at the Dairy Queen, gaining much more than the Freshman Fifteen by the end of the summer of that first year of college. With a significant school bill hanging over my head. If you missed Part 1, go HERE.

Going to a private Christian college was cost prohibitive to folks of our means - impoverished preachers! They didn't have much in the way of financial gain to call them to the ministry - it had to be a deep-seated conviction that it was where God wanted them to be - raising 5 kids in a parsonage that did not belong to them, on a salary that would be laughable if it were not so sad. But God never ever let us go hungry - or unclothed!

But trying to send kids to college was a challenge, to say the least. But I was convinced that I was where God wanted me to be. At the end of that freshman year summer and holding down two awful jobs, I didn't know if I was going to be able to return to school. I desperately wanted to. I loved it there.

In God's incredible timing, an amazing phone call came just in the nick of time. My dorm mom, whom I had not particularly liked (she was pretty cranky and old), realized how much I needed help. She had a heart that she hid pretty well under that gruff exterior. There were so many more girls coming to school as freshmen that year that there was not enough housing. The old war vintage boys' dorm that was targeted for demolition that year was brought back into active duty, even though it had been condemned! The college was asking me to be the resident assistant (RA) for the girls on the second floor of this antiquated dorm. I wasn't thrilled with the idea of living in old Fanning Hall, but I could not turn down this gift - room and 1/2 board paid, plus a cash job as receptionist at the front desk that fit into my schedule.

I think I had approximately 20 girls in my care that semester. We really bonded in a unique way, because of our less-than-desirable living conditions. I keep reiterating the same thing, but this was really a terrible place to live. If it weren't for the good memories I have of the girls, I would have no good memories of that semester. I had broken up with my boyfriend, I had no classes that I really enjoyed. I was away from my good friends from the year before, because I was in a freshman dorm and they'd gone on to bigger and better places to live.

So what was so bad about this place? For starters, it was a boys' dorm - it seems that boys don't mind showering all together in one huge, gross shower room. Add the fact that the drains didn't work well - are you getting the picture? Suffice it to say, I was physically and mentally incapable of showering with 20 girls. I chose to come back in the quiet of the afternoon, when they were in class, to gamble on showering alone.

The good news was that I had a nice large room to myself - my first room alone in my life. I had always roomed with my sister. I love my sister, but still craved solitude. The bad news - I had a bit too much solitude that year. I slept through my 7:30 class often, because nobody was there to make noise and wake me up. (I made the only C of my college career that semester because I missed that 7:30 World History class so often).

This old dorm didn't have a central heating system (and of course, no air conditiong). Each room had its own space heater. Each night I had to do a room check to be sure everyone was there and safely tucked in. The girl next door to me (who also had no roommate) was even more modest than I. There was no evidence that she ever availed herself of the community shower room - with or without company. And there was sufficient evidence that she did not - when she opened her door a crack each night to assure me she was there, the "aroma" coming through that crack was overwhelming - she must have been really cold-blooded, because she kept that heater going at full blast, and it was not a good combination with lack of cleanliness!

Those girls and I grew to know each other very well. I have notes from them that I discovered this summer in my old scrap book. Looking at the autographs in the yearbook for that year have also brought back great memories. It also brought back some less-than-fun happenings.

There were several unused rooms on our floor. Somehow someone planted cherry bombs, wrapped in girls' underwear, in an unoccupied room down the hall from me. They somehow lit them and escaped before they exploded. It was terrifying. All of us were concerned about the bizarre packaging and frightened that boys were breaking in and planting the devices. There was much discussion of "panty raids." There was great suspicion that the girls were helping the boys. There were all sorts of rumors rampant on the campus. One week-end the entire second floor was "grounded", or what was called "campused" in that setting. More punishment for me than for them! The other name for RA in those days was "floor monitor." My girls liked to call me "monster" instead at this time in our history together.

We eventually suspected an inside job, though nobody ever confessed and nobody was ever "convicted" of the crime. The case was never solved, but it certainly caused us to bond as partners in fear and trembling. I still wonder who did it!

The picture from my 1967 yearbook shows old Fanning Hall as it appeared before demolition. At the end of the first semester, enough girls had dropped out of their freshman year to open up spaces in the other dorms. I had moved into an upper class dorm. It was a strange sensation one day as I was walking by the old place and saw the door to my Room 127, still standing tall, as rubble lay all around it.


I only stayed in the new dorm for a few weeks before a similar RA job opened up in the dorm I lived in as a freshman. I moved onto the first floor and was able to continue paying my school bill. I have to say it was a much calmer second semester than the first had been. Almost to the point of boredom.



Nikkie said...

That is crazy that they let people live in a condemned building! That group shower thing had to just be awful. This is been a very interesting read, I'm looking forward to the next part!

Diane J. said...

Isn't it strange how some memories just stick with us and others just fade away? I think your memory must be much better than mine. I guess it depends on the events and the importance, what seems to stay with us over the years.

Another delightful summer job, hmm? ;D

Have a great weekend, Dawn.

Love and hugs,


PEA said...

Gosh, I can't even imagine how it must have been like to have to live in that dorm when it was already considered condemned! I would have been wayyy too shy to shower as a group...probably would have worn my bathing suit! lol You have such a good memory for every little fact...I don't remember much from my school years so it must have been quite boring! lol xoxo

Michelle-ozark crafter said...

Wow what an adventure that was! My goodness!

Linda said...

These post are such fun Dawn. I only went to college for a year, and the dorm I lived in sounds much like that one. We could hear little critters running around in the old walls at night. Yuck!!
I'll bet there is someone somewhere bragging about how they got away with pulling that stunt. It really must have been frightening.
Ready for the next episode....

Tammy said...

I've totally enjoyed this series you're doing on jobs, Dawn!
And yes, you are blessed with a great memory for details!

(Those showers...reminds me of the dreaded Jr. High showering after gym class...ugh!)

Judith said...

Oh my, what an experience, especially the showering. You were a very brave soul to tackle that job, monitoring students.

I was thirteen or fourteen, and got fired from a job in an ice cream shop. I kept hitting the wrong tab and squirting cholocate syrup on their cones, when they wanted strawberry, or plain vanila.

Myrna said...

I lived two years in a dorm that had first been a men's dorm! The first year the urinals were still there! Some girls decided to make use of them as planters--the ivy flourished!
The second year the communal bathrooms were more adequately remodeled.

You were certainly determined to go to college! Inspiring story1

Linda said...

Hi Dawn,
I just wanted to say I've read all (except the newest one) of A.S. McCall's #1 Ladies.... I just love them. There is a wonderful cadance in the way he writes them. You feel as though you are right there.
I sort of wish I hadn't read them, so I could start again. I'm desperate for some good books!!

Linda said...

Thanks Dawn. My Mom just started reading the Miss Julia books and seems to like them. I have read the Thoenes' books. I sort of got bogged down in the Jerusalem series that they seem to keep adding to - but I'll go back to them some time. I do want to know what happens to the main characters!
I love Earlene Fowler. I've read all of her books (which I have) several times.
I checked a couple of books out of the library the other day and had to just put them down and stop reading. They were well written - but the language and some of the graphic scenes. I absolutely know the Lord has told me I just can't put that stuff in my little brain. It's not a good thing:-)
That's why I'm always on the lookout for good cozy mysteries or books written in the 19th century.

Maine Mom said...

I'm glad that things worked out and you were able to stay in school. Sounds like an interesting semester!

Kathleen Marie said...

Wow, you are a steadfast person with a lot of perseverance. I don't know if I could have stuck it out but like you said, the girls made all the difference. What great memories!

On to Part 3??


Barb @ A Chelsea Morning said...

Boy, that semester sounds like a nightmare, Dawn. The dorm sounds awful, especially the community shower. I'm afraid I'd feel exactly the same way about showering in the open like that. Gross.

But the great thing is ways were provided to keep you in school. And after that living experience, it could only get better, right?

Sharon Lynne said...

What interesting memoires! You really make college sound like an adventure.

That old dorm mom must have seen some leadership skills in you.

Looking forward to the next installment!