Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Freshman Year at Cornell College

You will recall, fellow Googlers, that in my first attempt to invade your very own electronic waves, I brought the tour of my life up to graduation from high school.

It was a foregone conclusion in the King household that I would be attending Cornell college, a small liberal arts Methodist college in Mount Vernon, Iowa. Why was it a foregone conclusion? He who has the money, can dictate the rules and my two aunts, Gercie and Nell, were furnishing the necessary college costs and they had the say-so. In September 1937, I made the huge transition from farm boy to freshman in college. I took the usual freshman college courses, including freshman math. However, I found that freshman math was more than my farm intellect could whack to stand. So I dropped the math and took another course. Later on in this blog, you will find that dropping the math was actually a poor decision since there were some positions in the Navy that were open only to those who had taken college math.

I have previously related the accomodations we were assigned to Merner Hall, the newest of the dormitories on the campus. My roommate, Harold Parker from Ida Grove, Iowa, was likewise a farmboy, although a bit more sophisticated than I. As far as knowing the ways of the college world, Harold and I were strictly amateurs, particularly when compared with our utterly sophisticated roommates.

The freshman class had about the same proportion of male to female students, as would be expected and I felt that I would be doing the freshman girls a great favor if I dated them. I didn't have much money, but while the favorite activities 0n a date was to walk down to the railroad overpass and watch the "streamliners" pull through on their nightly run. I might also add that it was very dark on this bridge which was conducive for a farm boy seeking to make the big time.

I was sadly lacking in social graces, not knowing how to dance, nor carry on polite, but meaningless conversation, however, I was not alone in my absence of such graces. Since a large proportion of the freshman class were from Iowa farms or small towns, with this in mind, the college had opened the third floor of a classroom building to what they termed "social halls" open all week long with emphasis being on learning a few dance steps accompanied by victrola music of the period. With this schooling I was quick to learn the various intricacies of the "light fantastic" besides, it was free.

I also recall that during the fall of this year a group of us students hiked westerly on US 30 to the small creek known Abbey Creek. US 30 spanned the creek but the bridge was so constructed that it was dangerous in its engineering and had been a scene of many fatal accidents.

Sure enough when we reached the Abbey Creek Bridge it was horribly mangled and there were pieces of what we took for human flesh hanging from the severed railings. We later found that it had been a scene of a particularly gruesome accident and the passenger had been impaled on these railings.


  1. Sid's wife, Roberta wanted to be mentioned. I think Sid covered her when he mentioned meaningless conversation - which she can do for hours at a time - about any topic at all.

  2. Gee, I always thought Roberta had interesting things to say. I could never think of anything to say. However, I will say, my list of favorite foods would be quite different from Sid's. Did any of Sid's daughters go to Cornell?

  3. Hi, there, Sid!

    Here are some date corrections:

    Sara Jane was born on 10/17/1943

    Sid and Marilyn were married on 7/19/1942.

    Judith Rae was born on 7/6/1949.

    Jonathan Michael Lennox, first grandchild, was born on 5/4/1943.

    My list of favorite foods would be different, too--though I'd have to think what they are. I would take raspberries over strawberries, definitely.

    Did any of Sid's daughters go to Cornell? Well, no, and there are some stories there that probably don't need to be told. Sara and Cynthia went to DePauw, which was a place that made them both very unhappy. However, if you were a smart person in South Bend, that was the college you were supposed to attend. Now I think I would have been MUCH happier if I had gone to Indiana University, which is the university Judy attended. My senior year of high school one of my teachers found out I was going to DePauw and tried to get me to change my mind and go to Barnard. Since my son Jonathan went to Columbia, I felt like he finally did what I SHOULD have done. BTW, Sid's aunt and my great aunt, Nelle Wren Ayers, graduated with a master's from Columbia in the twenties. That was a pretty amazing thing in that era for a young (and disabled) woman from Iowa.

  4. Wait, no, Jonathan Michael Lennox was born in 19*73*, he was NOT born five months before his mother!