Diabetes and College, 1957-59
My parents told me I could not go to college. They thought I would not be successful because of my diabetes. None of my relatives had ever gone to college. Many of them had good jobs and good salaries They lived in fine homes. My parents did not understand my being so obsessed with going to college. What they did not understand was that I was deeply hurt by their telling me I would not make it through college because of my diabetes. I wanted to show them I could do that, and do it well! I had a good mind, and I wanted to use it in a meaningful way.
They begged me to apply for a job at the post office where my father worked. I could become a post office clerk, and he could watch over me. So I had to choose between standing at a counter selling stamps and weighing packages, or going to college. The only coed college available was Roanoke College, just 20 minutes away. If there had not been a college nearby I would never have gone to college. My parents were disappointed in me, and Mother cried. They were so dead set against my doing this.They refused to pay for any part of my tuition or my college expenses. They were kind though, and they gave me free room and board. Daddy let me drive his older Chevy instead of trading it in when he bought a new car. He kept the car in good shape, and paid for the gas. I had no money of my own, so I had to get a job. I started working at a supermarket the very month I graduated from high school. I worked about 30 hours per week during the summer, and started off at 75 cents per hour. Every few months I would get a raise of 5 or 10 cents per hour. I saved enough to pay for half of my tuition for the fall semester. I was supposed to pay the other half later during that semester. College expenses were so much more reasonable back then. If someone was working at a grocery store to pay for tuition in the 21'st century, it would be impossible. My being able to live at home, and make enough money to pay tuitions, made it possible for me to go to college. I reduced my hours at the grocery store when college was in session.
I wanted to become an architect. There was a pre-engineering program at Roanoke College, and I chose courses that would enable me to transfer after two years to Va. Tech, to become an architect. I made all A's and B's (mostly A's) during my freshman year, except for chemistry. I was not ready for college chemistry. I talked to the chemistry teacher and she understood my problem, but she could not do anything for me. I received C's in both semesters of chemistry, but I knew almost nothing about chemistry when the spring semester ended. Not having had the high school prerequisite chem course made it almost impossible for me. I felt the C grades were a gift. I was very grateful, but I felt guilty about it. I made new friends while in college, and we visited each other's homes. We played golf and went bowling many times. Good friends. I had a crush on several girls while in high school, and during my freshman year of college, but I was too shy to ask them for dates. I had my first date during my sophomore year of college. My shyness and lack of confidence kept me from dating until then.
While in college, I continued with one shot of animal insulin each day. I had Test Tape for testing my urine. That was so much better than the test tube and boiling on a stove. There were no glucose tablets for a long time to come. Sugar worked very well. I remember having lows during tests, and my teachers never let me take a make-up test. I took my test with my class, or not at all. I had a low during a calculus test that was so bad that my vision was blurred, and I could not read my test paper. My teacher would not believe me. That was the only math test I failed in college. There were only three tests and a comprehensive final exam in each math course I took. My failing grade on that test resulted in a B grade for first semester calculus. I made A's on all of my other Calculus tests.
When I returned to campus for my Sophomore year the pre-engineering program had been cancelled. I had engineering drawing, engineering orientation, and a class in slide rule during my Freshman year. (Can you believe that? There were no computers back then, and slide rules were very popular. I carried it strapped to my belt for my Freshman year. I still have my slide rule in a closet today.)
Since the pre-engineering program was cancelled, I could not continue my preparation to become an architect. It was too expensive for me to commute to Va.Tech, even though the campus was only one hour away. I needed to stay in Roanoke and work at the grocery store so I could continue paying my tuitions at Roanoke College. I had to change my major, and give up the idea of becoming an architect. I had always loved math in high school, and during my first year in college. The head of the math department convinced me to change my major to mathematics. I was disappointed that I could not continue to prepare for becoming an architect, but it all turned out well. The wonderful things that happened in the years ahead would not have happened if I had continued my original major on another campus. My mother was pleased that I would continue for four years at Roanoke College, while living at home.
I dated a very nice girl named Linda during my Sophomore year. We dated many times, and I really liked her. I will continue with that in my next chapter.