Before I was diabetic Daddy drove a milk truck and delivered milk to people’s homes. Mother was always a stay at home Mom and there was barely enough income to pay the rent on the house and put food on the table. A few years later Daddy applied for a job at the Roanoke Post Office and was accepted. The salary was substantially larger and that was when we made a down payment on the 10 acres that became our farm.
The house across the street from ours was huge and was made from big, beautiful stones like the ones in the buildings on the Va. Tech campus nearby. The people living in that mansion probably hated seeing us building a little four room shanty directly across the street from them. We were very surprised when they came over to see us and welcomed us with open arms. Their son Larry became my very best friend and we spent much time together playing cowboys and riding our stick horses, climbing trees and building a make-shift tree house, and hunting black birds that would land in our corn field with our BB rifles. We were good buddies until we went to high school and then we drifted apart. They bought a TV set when they were first available at the stores. No one else we knew had one. I was so thrilled to get to sit in his beautiful living room and watch the black and white TV. What a thrill!
My sister was three years younger than me. We were always close and loved each other very much. We still do. My friend Larry, my sister and I were playing Tarzan one day on our back property, no houses in site. There were four acres of tall corn there. I was Tarzan, my sister was Jane and Larry was Cheeta, the chimp. The corn field was our jungle. Larry and I were 7 and my sister was 4. Cheeta and I went forth to hunt wild animals for food and left Jane in the middle of the jungle. Cheeta and I stayed away too long and we heard Jane crying. We were in no hurry to rescue Jane so we took our time. When we got back to her she was bawling. We led her out of the jungle and took her home. On our way we picked dew berries and ate them and I picked wild flowers for Jane…er…my sister and by the time we got home she was happy and laughing. Mother never knew about the corn field incident. My sister and I still kid each other about that day. We tease each other and we have such a great sense of humor. My Mother was nuts, so silly. We got our sense of humor from her. I don’t remember ever doing any other cruel thing to my sister. We are great friends.
My parents saved money and when I was in the ninth grade they built a big, beautiful brick home. The four room shanty was torn down. The house was just as big as Larry’s house across the street. We were so proud of it! We had a TV too!
My senior year high school Math teacher insisted that I go to college. My parents told me I could not do that. 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 and 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 had to show them and the world 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 and become a post office clerk. So I had to choose between standing at a counter and 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 that they refused to pay for any part of my tuition or my college expenses. They were kind though and gave me free room and board and 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 and 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 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.
Roanoke College is affiliated with the Luthern church and has always had a very good reputation. I was frightened at orientation because the incoming freshmen I met had followed the academic curriculum in high school. They had chemistry or biology and physics in high school. I did not because I followed the general curriculum and did not intend to go to college until that math teacher in my senior year of high school convinced me to do so. I knew I was unprepared for college. I was signed up for chemistry for my freshman year. I was the only student in the class who had not had chemistry in high school. There was no lower level chem course to prepare me like today’s colleges offer. I was very discouraged. I could not give up and tell my parents I would not go to college. That was not my nature. I would go to college and do my best. If I failed then I would at least know I did my best.