Oh, yes it was. And, memories I had not thought of in many years, came flooding back. Good memories…but not the kind I ever want to go back to. But, sweet nonetheless. Last evening, we had the pleasure of hosting Don’s roommate, Garry, and his friend, Susan at our home for a lovely dinner and a nice, long visit. Even though Don and Garry have kept up with each other through the years, I had not seen him long enough to visit in a long, long time. Don and I do not talk much about those days anymore, but Don, Garry and I were all in college in Birmingham, they lived off campus and me, on campus. This was a Baptist College in the early and mid 1970’s. Strict, chauvinistic, typical. Only boys could live off campus and only after their freshman year…girls had a 10:00 curfew during the week, Friday -11:oo, and Saturday- 11:30. This was written in the cornerstone of the buildings and was the law. Bad news if you were late. The doors to the main door of the dorm were locked at curfew. If you were late , this is the ordeal you had to endure to get back into YOUR own dorm room which YOUR parent’s spent THEIR hard earned money for…
First, you had to stop by the little pretend police stations at the front gates of the campus…. they had big gates that were locked there, as well, at curfew and there were 2 little huts built onto the ends of the gates where the sentinels sat. There you had to give them your name and your life’s history and then they would call the dorm keeper to see if you were actually still out. (You were standing there right in front of them, but obviously they had been taught that you could possibly be a figment of their imagination, a ghostly sort of apparition of yourself who would try to trick them at odd hours of the night.)
If the dorm warden discovered you were indeed not in your tiny little twin bed in your tiny little room designed to hold one bed, but unfortunately holding 3!……then the bouncers at the front gates would ESCORT you and your unfortunate date to your dorm……..
……..The dorm defender of female virtue would be waiting at the bottom of the stairs (usually in pajamas and robe) and you had to go in – BY YOURSELF- and be interrogated. All the time she would be busy making notes to put in the mail to your parents the next morning. Your date was left in the control of the gate guardian and what happened next was never spoken of . But, I heard it included getting points taken off of some kind of important records. The rest was probably too hideous to mention. If, however, your date had the good fortunate to NOT be a student at the same university…he just gave a jaunty wave to the gate watchers, and drove on his merry way…living to date again. You could be sure, however, that he never bothered to date a girl from the GATED COMMUNITY UNIVERSITY……FOR THE SAKE OF JOURNALISTIC FAIRNESS…..These accounts are mostly HERESAY …not first-hand information.
…….If you went home for the weekend…you had to let the dorm mistress know…and if, perchance, you happened to head for home immediately after your last class on Friday and forget to go by and sign out….well, kiss some more points goodbye..and you would forever be known as ‘that girl who forgot to sign out for the weekend and sent her dorm granny into a tizzy’! You’d also better be back by check in time on Sunday afternoon, or the whole dorm would explode! They would call and see when you left home and when you should have arrived and made notations of the differences in the two. You could just forget stopping at the big mall in Montgomery and shopping a little. Points! Gotta keep those points!
I was very conscious of ‘the rules’ and did my best to follow them exactly. But, some girls just wanted to live a life of danger and excitement. Why, I heard some of the girls had even found a way of escaping all that gate nonsense and would just sneak back in the dorm through a conveniently unlocked window…left so by an accomplice on the inside! Can you imagine? I never knew any of these girls personally, you understand. I belonged to the GIRL’S OBEYING AND LIVING WITHIN THE GUIDELINES SET DOWN BY THE UNIVERSITY CLUB. And, I still do not understand why I found several points had been taken off my records at the end of every year! But I digress……. Don and Garry were roommates…but more than that, they were friends. I suppose they would have to be to put up with each other. They were as opposite looking as possible. Don-tall, very thin and dark complexion…Garry-short, blond hair and fair complexion. Yes they did make a striking sight walking across campus!
And, oh, my! OH, MY! the place they lived was unreal. It was in the basement of a widow woman’s home. Not a renovated basement. Just a basement. Not insulated, a concrete floor, and, as I remember, there weren’t walls in places. There was just barely a bathroom. It was cold. It was damp. It was dirty, just by virtue of the fact that it was a basement…and not a basement that was intended to be inhabited by humans! I went there once or twice, and we were all in school for 4 years. Once or twice was enough.
Do you know what a mole cricket is? I quote…………………”They are big, awful looking (to a girl) insects about 2 inches long, with large beady eyes and shovel-like forelimbs highly developed for burrowing and swimming. They can also FLY!!! They are active most of the year. They are also omnivores, feeding on larvae, worms, roots, and grasses. They are nocturnal, and spend nearly all their lives underground in extensive tunnel systems ” Wikipedia…(pink words and exclamations are mine)…………………….. That’s what they are supposed to do. The time or two I was there, I saw them. Yes, I did. FLYING, they were! But, the thing that struck terror into my heart was hearing Garry and Don talk about how when they would turn the light off, and it would get quiet…you could hear them crunching and eating and crawling and digging all night! Does that send shivers down your spine? That is like a horror movie to me. I had forgotten about those things until they reminded me again Saturday night.
Garry and his girlfriend, Vickie, and Don and I had some fun and veeeeeery interesting times. It was all we girls could do to go to school and keep our eyes on them. Sometimes they would tend to veer off the straight and narrow. But, we would drag them back on, and wait for the next time…wondering all the time if we should maybe just run for our lives! Eventually Vickie and Garry married and moved into a cute little duplex in Mountain Brook…the kind of place that nice boys live in…NO mole crickets! Don moved into a nicer place…but it was still in a basement. And , then Don and I married. And, we did NOT live in a basement! We all finished school, and they moved to Montgomery, which was Garry’s home, and we moved back home to Dothan. Lots of things have changed for them both, but they have maintained their friendship through the years. We would visit back and forth since we were just 100 miles away, but life gets busy and kids come along and we drifted apart, but Don and Garry have still talked all along. I found a cute picture of our Adam and Garry and Vickie’s 3 children, Ashley, Alyssa and Amy when they came to visit us once. This must have been around 1980-ish.
We talked of many things, as we visited, and remembered more things as we talked. I think that when you live an important part of your life with a friend…you are forever joined. The memories of the experiences and the memories of the friendship become one in the same. You can not think of one without thinking of the other. New situations and life experiences are not nearly so intimidating when shared with a friend. And, growing through situations tends to bind you together. And, makes a boy into a man.