Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Memories of Colorado

Some of my favorite memories of my time attending an ultra-liberal Graduate program in Boulder, Colorado for a summer many years back involve my interactions with the faculty there.

From the professor who swore that she'd call the police the first time that I failed to show up for class on Monday because she knew that I was spending my week-ends exploring old mines by myself, to the dean who got me hooked on Steinbeck, I sometimes think that I gained more from personal interaction with these folks than I did from the actual subject matter, most all of which I've forgotten by now.

A professor whom I had first thing in the morning will always be remembered fondly, not so much from what he taught me about the subject, but what he taught me about punctuality.

My daily routine during those days went something like this:
--Wake up in the morning. (Remember--I'm sleeping in a camper somewhere up around Nederland.)
--Police campsite and clean out camper. Any trash was used for target practice, then bagged and hauled to the trash or recycling bins at school.
--Get breakfast at a little Mexican diner. Flirt with waitresses without success.
--Go to school gym. Work out, then shower and shave.
--Go to class building. Hit computer center in basement first to check e-mail. Stay too long.
--Walk into class just about five minutes late and take seat.

Well one day, my professor had had enough. As I breezed in late again, he stopped his lecture, sighed loudly, and exclaimed: "Late again, Mr. Murphy's Law? How hard could it be for you to get to class on time just once? My God, man, you live in the parking lot!"
Well I was on time from that day forward. And I can still hear the roar of laughter from the rest of the students in that very full lecture hall. Point taken, lesson learned.

And then there was that dean again, who showed me that sometimes those around us see far more than we give them credit for. After my last final exam, I was walking back out to my camper and getting ready to roll on out of Boulder for the last time when I encountered him as he was walking in. He stopped, shook my hand, and said: Well Mr. Murphy's Law, it's been interesting having you here and I can say that things will be a bit different now that you're leaving."
"How's that?" I asked.
"Well, you know. I've enjoyed our discussions of Steinbeck and your travels, and I'll miss those. Your dog's been kind of a fixture around here, too. And speaking for the school, we'll miss all of the shot-up dog food cans in the recycling bins every morning."

This school had a strict policy barring guns from campus. Possessing one gun was grounds for expulsion; I'd had three of them locked up in my camper all summer.

"Whoa! Why would you think that I had anything to do with that?"

The dean just smiled. "Mr. Murphy's Law, I didn't get to be the dean of this school by being stupid. Have a safe trip." Then he shook my hand again and walked away. I just stood there for a moment pondering that. And then I burst out laughing. It had been one hell of a summer.


  1. Just because they're "old" doesn't mean they don't pay attention... :-)

  2. And, just because they are teaching in a college doesn't mean they are liberal hoplophobes.

    I had occasion to speak on consecutive days at USAFA and UC-Boulder to the AFROTC corps. I was impressed that the cadets living in the belly of the beast were sharper and more motivated than the chosen ones in residence at Colorado Springs.

  3. Anonymous6:39 PM

    CU was a few worlds and a universe or two away from that place where I went to school a mere 25 miles south

  4. The notion of guns on campus - my what a difference a generation makes.

    When I was in college in the early '80s, I took some ROTC marksmanship classes in lieu of PE. It was a good trade-off for me, as I could take morning classes, and be at work at my bank job by 2:00 without having to shower.

    We had an underground rimfire range under one of the athletics buildings, and bringing one's own firearms was permitted. I remember shooting my High Standard HD-Military, and my Dad's Martini-actioned BSA target rifle on that basement range.

    Of course, that scenario has long since passed.


  5. Donald, we just got guns on state college/university campuses through the TX legislature and awaiting Gov. Perry's signature. The bleating of deans and regents was drowned out by common sense of the half-million CHL holders in the state who don't shoot up the towns randomly.

  6. How I miss that town - used to visit every NYE for a week. (Boulderado spoilment...) And Lucille's...

    Stepdaughter went to CU and I envied her every moment.

  7. Raz, I wonder, though, if that will result in UTA reopening its on-campus range.