COLLEGE TOWNS AND CONCERT QUESTS
I wasn’t scared of anything when I was preparing to leave home for college. Not the leaving, not the moving, not the adjusting. Nothing, except for one thing: driving in that big city.
My hometown boasted 321 people at its zenith in the 1980 census. Therefore, the traffic was minimal, if existent at all. My earliest driving experiences were on the farm, in the wide open. I recall this thought clearly: “How am I ever going to learn to drive in that Hays traffic?”
Mercifully, I did learn to drive in that Hays, Kansas (population 16,301 in 1980 census), traffic when I moved there in 1984, spending the next four years at Fort Hays State University. I spent the next four years out, and then I went back for two more. Suzanne spent 1988-90 there. One of our older brothers spent four years there as well, with his last year overlapping my first year. Our youngest brother attended there as well.
I always feel a pull; a magnetism drawing me back there when I visit. The memories are good, and there are many. So, when I visited there this weekend to attend an event with family and friends, I felt compelled to write about it. I write about the things I love, and I am still smitten with Hays. I know I said I was going to take some time off, but when something is begging to be written about, I write about it.
Coincidentally, Gail visited her college town this week, too. She lives only thirty miles from it, and her daughter now attends Colby Community College, where Gail attended from 1978-80.
Gail’s husband celebrated his birthday last week, and they went to Colby to celebrate with Lydia. Gail and Lydia took advantage of this generational photo op.
Hays boasts a hometown, home-made brewery/restaurant in it’s downtown.
It is our favorite place to dine when we visit. This treasure wasn’t there when I was, but it is across the street from a favorite hang-out from way back:
So, when the guys were getting lost in the stories and reverie from the years they spent together there,
I took a little walk down to campus.
My old dorm still stands, changed only a little on the outside. The inside is now coed, and stepping back inside was a step back in time.
It still smells the same.
I crossed this bridge perhaps several thousand times on my way from my dorm to the quad, and the cement and wire, I’m sure, are still the same as they were 35 years ago.
I attended most of my undergraduate classes in this building.
I got a bit more serious when I went back for a master’s degree; I had no choice. This building kept me from the light of day for most of my graduate student career.
A chunk of my readership hails from my hometown, with many of them and/or other family members having attended FHSU. Not only is it a solid school, it is close to my hometown—90 miles. The college is named after the army fort that was active there from 1865-1869. It was an important frontier post during the American Indian Wars of the late 19th century. It is now operated by the Kansas Historical Society as Fort Hays Historic Site.
One of its claims to fame is that it provided the college education for the world’s second-oldest college graduate. Nola Ochs, a western Kansas native, graduated from FHSU in 2007 at the tender age of 95. She passed away in December 2016 at age 105.
While researching this online, I found out that her record was eclipsed just this year, but no further information was available. I will certainly keep you abreast of any new news releases regarding this, because, as you know, I am enamored with useless trivia.
Speaking of such trivia, you may want to know the difference between the terms college and university. I sure did, so I’m certain you will want to know too: Colleges typically provide undergraduate (bachelor’s), four-year degrees, while universities provide undergraduate as well as graduate (master’s) degrees.
As I write Sunday afternoon, I am anxiously awaiting Gail’s arrival. She fulfilled one thing on her bucket list wish to see Bob Seger in concert Saturday night. She and her friend Karen traveled to Tulsa, Oklahoma, to catch him before he hangs it up at the end of this tour. This legendary music man will celebrate his 74th birthday tomorrow, May 6th.
They are stopping here on their way home west, just over the halfway mark of this seven-hour trip. I don’t even have to ask her if it was worth it.
We hate to brag, but the sisters of the Sister Lode are experts in the Life is short so do it now way of life. We’ve told you this before, and we will likely tell you again. Several posts ago, I mentioned that Bob’s concert was one of the things on Gail’s list, Because a seven-hour jaunt didn’t deter Gail, and because this is his farewell tour, she made it happen.
We learned the hard way that at some unknown point, tomorrow won’t come for our loved ones and eventually for each and every one of us as well. Because of this lesson, we have made good things happen in our lives. For that awareness, we are grateful.
So, go to college—or not. It’s not for everyone. If you did, and you have warm memories from your college town, go back and visit when you have the chance. Go to your favorite concert—if you want to. Go on that cruise or take that art class. Re-connect with that old friend you have been meaning to call. Grab the mic on the karaoke stage. Whatever it is, do it now. Make some new memories.
There is something to be said for bucket lists and for old time rock and roll, because it never forgets. Neither do college towns.