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Vintage Carolina: The Cat’s Meow!

Flapper Days!

Ron_Jan_vintage_2015A wonderful evening at the Community Foundations’ Vintage Carolina celebration. The Baker Barber photos I have been working on this past year were the theme. The images dated from the 1880s thru the 1960s.

Some guests dressed in period costumes. Jan is wearing a dress my mother bought in the 1950s at a rummage sale for 25¢. It is an original flapper dress, at least 90 years old. Covered with lovely beads, making it a bit heavy. It didn’t slow down our dancing though.

She was indeed the “cats meow!

Jan_Charley_Pam_dance

 

Jan, Charley, & Pam strut their stuff!

 

I don’t think that is the Charleston!

 

RonClogging.2015The dance started with Rocky Top. Obviously, Ron couldn’t resist. A fun evening!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Off to College

I had never visited a college campus until the day I traveled to Bowling Green State University for registration in the summer of 1964. Being the first in my family to graduate from high school, let alone go to college, I was fairly naïve about the whole process. A Ron_Partin_1964gradcouple years earlier, I’d taken an interest inventory and railroad locomotive engineer scored as one of my top career options. There was nothing close to that in the college catalogue I had received.

So, I had to think a bit when the registration official said, “What will be your major?” Truth is than in my world, I had only interacted with two kinds of college graduates: doctors and teachers. No way was doctor on the table. That was obviously for very smart, rich kids. I liked school. Most of the teachers I had experienced through high school seemed pretty happy and fairly well-adjusted. How hard can that be?

“Okay, put me down for that teacher thing. Let me give that a shot.”

“What area of education do you want to concentrate on?” the counselor replied.

“Hmm. Hadn’t thought about that a whole lot. I do love reading about history and famous people. Yeah, put me down for history. I’ll be a history teacher!”

After I returned home from the visit and announced to the family that I was going to be a history teacher, my father suggested, “If you are going to spend all that time and money going to college, “Why not be something like a doctor or lawyer, so you can make some real money?”

Well, he just didn’t get. He didn’t understand the smart, rich kid qualification!

BGSU

Moving from the security and comfort of a small rural community to an exploding college campus could have been intimidating. Certainly I was no longer the big fish in a little pond. The front lines of the Baby Boomers were marching off to campus, and few colleges were prepared to handle the charge.bgsu-seal

Like most universities, BGSU was stretched far beyond its maximum capacity. Dorms were overcrowded. Freshman classes were huge, often in large lecture halls of several hundred students.

When I showed up at my assigned room in Rogers Hall, three roommates were already there. We shared two sets of bunk beds, two small closets, two built-in desks, and two small dressers. Fortunately, I didn’t have a very large wardrobe.

All four were uniquely different guys, two from the Cleveland area, and two from small rural communities. One of the big city guys flunked out at the end of the first semester. Dave Patterson, survived and thrived, eventually earning his doctorate. I made it though the first year with decent grades, though nothing stellar.

I am not sure how it evolved, but I always abhorred procrastinating. I did each day’s assignment, periodically reviewed my notes, and almost never crammed. It just seemed natural to me – like brushing your teeth. I do recall the dismay of my roommates who were cramming frantically during final’s week, while I was playing basketball an hour or two every day.

As I settled into my dorm in September of 1964, the thought that 26 years of my life would be spent wandering this campus, as a student, graduate student, then as a professor, would been branded a bizarre fantasy.

Honing in on a Profession

My plan was to become a history teacher, so the first semester I enrolled in the History of Western Civilization, taught in a large lecture hall with a thick textbook. Lots of names and dates to memorize. I recall one professor showing up to every morning with a large cup of coffee and chain-smoking through the whole class. (Not that unusual in those tobacco-ridden days.) The first year, almost every minute of class time was spent listening to a professor lecture.

The next year I took more interesting advanced history classes. Dr. Gary Hess was an inspiring scholarly history teacher, who helped us explore the deeper significance of historic events and how they shaped the future. In my early teaching career, he served as a significant role model.

The best advice I received from my academic advisor was to switch my major from history to “comprehensive social studies,” which added a broader range of courses: geography, economics, psychology, and sociology. This wise advice really paid off when I started looking for my first job.

I enrolled in my first psychology class and discovered a deep love for the subject, so much so that I took every psychology course I could schedule. I completed enough hours to major in psychology, but the college of education didn’t allow dual majors. Most of my leisurely reading focused on the various branches of psychology. I was delighted and surprised to become one of the first teachers in Ohio certified to teach psychology and sociology! I was quite surprised when it arrived with my comprehensive social studies certificate.

We married two weeks after my graduation. Jan still had another year to go, so we rented a small duplex in Bowling Green. She enrolled in summer school, and since I didn’t start my teaching job until fall, I enrolled in the School Psychology graduate program. I also took night classes during the school year.

Vietnam was heating up, though teachers were given draft deferments at that time. But when I began planning for my year of required internship, my draft board informed me there was a good chance I would be drafted as soon as I left teaching to complete the internship. My advisor said I had completed almost all the courses for a degree in Guidance and Counseling, so I switched majors and graduated with a Master’s Degree in 1970.

An Aside

A couple years later, draft deferments for teachers ended and I received a letter from my local draft board to report for a physical. I called the board and explained I was taking my final exams that week, and could they schedule it for a later date. The clerk said that would not be a problem, and that they would contact me later to set another date. I am still waiting for them to respond.