The following was written by my late wife Elaine. She wrote a long book, a diary really, from which this is one passage:
“On The Thing”
One other never-to-be-forgotten memory of college work at Vint Hill was the psychology class. Our teacher was an older lady from Washington, DC who had what I call “a vocal tic:” She said “on the thing” about once every half minute like some folks say “ummm.”
I wasn’t going to be able to go to her final exam because of an out of town family situation, so I asked her if I could make it up, with any plan that would suit her, and she said that if I came to her apartment in SE Washington I could take the test there, which I appreciated, and we made plans for that on a Sunday afternoon, in daylight hours.
Safety Precautions in Southeast Washington, DC
When I arrived at the parking lot, a guard used his remote controller to open the gate, after he asked my name and called the teacher from his little booth. I parked where he told me to, and walked to the elevator. I had to push a button, tell who I was, and that voice checked with her, then the elevator door opened and I went to her floor and found her apartment door. I knocked, told her who I was, and I heard the chain come out of its slot; then I heard a bolt on the door open, and one of the turn-knobs “on the thing” – oh, I mean, on the door – and then she opened the door. I’m glad I won’t ever have to go there again.
I wanted to go ahead and get my degree, but I was going to have to commute for the last two years to the campus of Mary Washington College, Fredericksburg, Virginia – 50 miles from home – to complete the required music degree courses. This was hard. I got help from Dave, and a lot of cooperation from the kids.
Some of my classes began at 8 a.m. More than once in wintertime I was seated for my 8:00 a.m. class – after driving from Warrenton to Fredericksburg – and young girls would run over from their dorms with ice in their wet hair and come panting in about one minute before 8:00. Sometimes I felt like everybody’s mother (I was 37), but most of the time I felt like just one of the students. I worked hard and did well and thoroughly enjoy all my classes. The large indoor pool at MWC was available for students and their families, and sometimes Dave and I and the kids would all drive together on Friday evenings and eat out at McDonald’s in Fredericksburg and go swimming in the college pool.
The Dean of the Music Department, Anne Hamer, was an older lady who taught several music classes I was fortunate to be in – Harmony, Theory & Composition – and we became good friends.
To be continued…
About the Author: RD Blakeslee is a nonagenarian in West Virginia who built his net worth by only investing in that which can be enjoyed during acquisition and throughout life, as opposed to papers in a drawer, like stocks and bonds. You can read more about him here.
Photos: Courtesy of the Blakeslee Family