30 May 2010


Real life at last!  I am going to University.  I was put on a long-distance Greyhound coach from Oroville to Los Angeles - some 730 Km according to Google maps - with one suitcase, another smaller bag, and my trumpet.  It was a night trip and I had no idea where to go when I arrived in Los Angeles.  The downtown transport station early on a September morning in 1960 was daunting, but I asked around and finally found a 'bus that said it would take me to the Westwood campus of UCLA.

I was frightened of getting off at the wrong stop and as a result walked what I think was two or three miles carrying my luggage, with my arms feeling like they were going to drop off, until I got to Dykstra Hall - which, to my astonishment, is still there, but now advertises:
  • Each room wired for Internet and Cable TV
  • Male and female community bathrooms on each floor

When I was a resident it was daring enough that there were three women's floors - the top three - and seven men's.  Our rooms were wired for electricity, which we thought enough.
Two men shared a room.  My roommate was Phil Grote.  Poor Phil!  He was a fairly well-behaved native of Los Angeles; I was an ill-behaved, and ignorant, young know-it-all from Oroville.  He was, nevertheless, very tolerant of me for the year we knew each other.
A lot happened that year, and I may talk a bit about it later.  A unique experience was my time in Air Force ROTC.
UCLA had been a Land Grant College - a University established on land granted from the US Federal government.  My year at UCLA was the last one - at least, the last at UCLA - in which all male students were required to enrol in ROTC (an enrolled course for which you received credit).  If you continued in the programme after your first two years, you were then funded by the programme and obliged to serve time - six years, I think - as an officer.
I was only in it for the one year.  I loved it.  I got a second stripe - "corporal's stripes" - because I was in the marching band.  We were shown exciting films about B-52 bombers and the Strategic Air Command - and taught to salute, and how to polish our shoes and the bills of our caps.  When I want to UC Berkeley the next year the requirement for the programme had been abolished.  I was a bit sad - but was not going to become an officer!
Phil's and my friend Mike was a brilliant student, a brilliant mathematician - and a pacifist of sorts.  He refused to enrol.  I recall that when it came time for him to graduate, they didn't want to give him his degree, because he had not done ROTC.  I think in the event he was accepted for a Master's programme without his degree.  Maybe he never got his Bachelor's.


Edgy said...

ok now THIS is interesting... more about your university time would be aesome :)

John Thayer Jensen said...

Edgy said:

ok now THIS is interesting... more about your university time would be aesome :)

Wow! My boring University years are interesting? You need to get out more - or maybe go watch some reality TV.

Of course I can't tell everything about my University days; the statute of limitations is pretty long for some things :-)