Saturday, June 3, 2017

Nancy Gets an A and a Fiancee


Sophomore year at Adrian
Summer of 1971 ended. I was excited to be back at Adrian and reunited with Gary. We had a whole semester together before he graduated.

The night before Gary took me back to Adrian we played Scrabble with my family. I had a call from my old friend Pat, the girl who in freshman year had been my first Michigan best friend.
Gary and me. That's my Give Earth a Chance button from
the first Earth Day teach-in at Kimball.
 Yes, Gary was a nerd with a pocket protector.
The first semester I was rooming with Marti again in the same first-floor room in Estes Hall. She and Sam were still an item. We did a lot of  'double dating.'

Marti, sophomore year at Adrian
Back on campus our friends, his and mine, became a new mixed group: Gary's Euchre friends, Tim, George, Jack, Marti, and me.  I was happy to hear that George and Nancy were going steady. 
Marti, Sam, Me, Gary, John in the back. Note the smile pins!

Gary started the week with tonsillitis but in a few days we were at Shakey's Pizza in Ohio where Adrian kids went for the legal light beer. I had a root beer. Then he took me to the Franklin Park Mall in Sylvania, looking for a Hot Sams to get a pretzel. 

September 15 I wrote that Gary and I helped Jack collect "nature stuff" for an art class. I tried to collect poison ivy! 

I joined Gary at the library when he played classical music records and listened on headphones. He shared his favorite music with me including Beethoven and Ravel's Bolero. He also showed me Picasso's Guernica, one of his favorite works of art.

At the end of September, there was a Talent Night and it appears I played the piano. We went to a football game and Gary took me to a sleazy Mexican restaurant for tacos.

The Adrian College Chapel
Gary and I talked about everything: life, religion, eternity, people, what we loved. We studied in the library or the Mahon Hall's teacher's lounge at night, drinking the bitter dregs of black coffee hot enough to melt the plastic spoons. 

October 7, 1971, was our fifth month anniversary. On October 10 we were studying in the library and goofing around, talking about how we both loved banana bread. We decided to become engaged.We joked about a wedding in the Pub where we had met. But we didn't tell anyone yet that we were engaged.

Gary bought tickets to see Jesus Christ Superstar by Webber and Rice in the original concert presentation appearing at the Toldeo Masonic Auditorium in November. It was amazing. Gary bought the piano score for me to learn. I played the songs on the piano and sang some with the guitar.


Gary had good study habits and I studied with him, and I spent less time hanging around in the Pub meeting new people, so my grades improved.
Chapel Choir 1971-2. I am in front  row center,
and Marti is in back row center.
Gary, Marti, and I were all in the chapel choir. We performed A Ceremony of Carol for the Christmas Concert. In the spring concert, we performed Zoltan Kodaly's Te Deum and Vaughn Wiliam's Five Mystical Songs. AJ was our fun and fearless director.

Gary and I signed up to take Anthropology with Prof. George Sommers. What a great guy! Gary had friendly conversations with his professors. I had always been intimidated. We got to know Prof. Sommers, who was an ordained UMC minister before earning his Ph.D. in Anthropology.


I never forgot a story Prof. Sommers told the class. It went something like this: There were the people who lived near the shore and there were the people who lived over the mountain in the valley. Each called themselves God's Real Chosen People, and the other group was seen as inferior and hardly human. That simple story summed up all the wars and religious persecution and hatred humans have been cursed with. We see people not like us as others, subhuman, the 'unchosen.' I got an A.

I was in Religion of Mankind in the fall. I loved the class but at 2 pm I drifted off to sleep--Just like I did at 2 pm in Mr. Heald's high school chemistry class! My hand would keep writing notes, scribbling across my paper. But I still got a B. In the spring I took Ancient Philosophy were we read Greek and Roman primary sources. This was more like Mr. Botens class!

Required English Lit was not boring. I discovered Chaucer, Restoration Comedy, and the early novels of Fielding and Richardson. I became obsessed with these early novels. My interest pivoted from Modern American lit to English Lit, especially the early novel.

I signed up for Ecology in the fall and Oceanography in the spring. I loved both classes, but especially Oceanography. I fantasized about becoming a Marine Biologist. If only I could handle the math! I got an A.


I took Politics of Development with Dr. deLepinasse. The class read a book a week. I believe one book was sci-fi. Another was Thomas Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, a book that left an impression on me with its thesis that every new discovery must overthrow the old paradigm of thinking before it becomes accepted.

I remember Prof. deLepinasse invited the class to his house and started a conversation about offering amnesty for men who had fled to Canada to escape being drafted into the Vietnam War.

I took Creative Writing with Dr. Jay. One a poem I wrote grappled with the sadness I felt every spring, plagued by memories from 1968 and the horrible events of that year. It was a theme I would later return to.

My poems were not very good; in fact, they had actually become lousy. I was trying to be avant-garde but instead was vague and too self-referential. I barely scrapped by with a B. My professor noted that I was 'not that bad' but I had not done significant rewriting.

I wrote one good poem, Third Window Scene, inspired by a window view I saw during a class on the third floor.


The long tall tops
of the pine trees
outside the window

perform a frantic
wind dance
seeming wild creatures
possessed by demons.

Clouds rumble and roll
like gray giants wrestling,
dusky shadows obscuring
what sunlight momentarily brightened.

The wind pushes the dense
rain-packed stormclouds
over the heaven's day-face

its breezy bottom edge
trailing across the 
pointed top boughs
of dancing pines.

It inspired a fellow student to write a poem in response. She became a professor and poet. I can at least feel proud that I once inspired her!

I only got into the Seminar in Modern Literature, a 400 level lit class, because I pleaded to be allowed to. I had not taken 200 or even 300 level coursework in English.

The focus was on Black Comedy, which I had never heard of. We read Joseph Heller's Catch-22, Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five, John Barth's Sot-Weed Factor and The Floating Opera and Chimera, The Adventures of Augie March by Saul Bellow and other novels I can't recall. I had never read anything like them. I got another A.

As a matter of fact, my grades were so improved that I was given a grant from the college for the spring semester, which added to my state scholarship and Rotary grant, was a real help.

Girls from the dorm, Tim, and George.
Note the Smile poster on the wall!
On Sundays mornings Gary took me to Big Boy where we had breakfast. Then he bought a Detroit Free Press and we sat in Estes Hall's living room and read the paper together. My dorm mom really liked Gary because he was going into the ministry.

My Grandmother Ramer sold her home and moved in with my parents.  The bedroom Mom had redecorated in blues and purples with a Mod daisy bedspread was no longer mine when I came home. It was now Grandma Ramer's room and I slept on a folding cot in my brother's bedroom!
Mom had decorated with this pattern!
Christmas came. Marti gave Sam a long scarf she had knit.
Marti and Sam with the scarf she knit him
I gave Gary a rocking chair and my photograph.

Me and Gary at Christmas 1971. I gave him the rocking chair.


The oil tinted photograph I gave Gary, Christmas 1971
My grandmother decided to sell the house in Berkley and move in with my parents. They wanted to buy a new house that would better accommodate the blended family.
second semester, freshman year ID
Gary graduated mid-year. Beginning in January 1972 he would study for his MDiv at the Methodist Theological School in Ohio, known as METHESCO, in Delaware, Ohio.
Gary's senior photo for college graduation
At some point, we told our folks that we were engaged to be married. First, we were going to wait two years until I graduated. I thought about transferring to another school, like Kent State, to be near him. But by going to school in Ohio I would lose my grants.

Finally, I suggested we marry after the end of my school year. That way, I could be with Gary during seminary and 'figure out' what this minister thing was all about. I would try to take classes at Ohio Wesleyan or finish my education after he graduated. At first, we thought about September, then we settled on June 17. We had met on the 7th and became engaged on the 10th, so 7+10=17!


In January my parents moved into a newer brick ranch in Clawson, just about two miles further north up Main Street. There was a living room and family room so my grandmother could be separate from family activities. Dad finished the basement in a hurry so it would be ready for the wedding.

My Mom and Aunt Nancy and Grandma Ramer ganged up on me to get a wedding planned.

We contacted my high school journalism teacher Mr. Rosen to take the photographs. Mom said for years he had some of my photos on display.
Mr. Rosen's card shows $125 price for the wedding photographs
My home church was too expensive to rent because they had no record that I had recently tithed. So we went to St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Ferndale where my grandfather had been a deacon.

Gary and I decided on simple daisies for flowers.

I did not want an engagement ring or a wedding gown. I had no interest in a diamond and was too practical to waste money on a dress to be worn once. Gary and I chose gold wedding bands engraved with a floral vine.

Mom was exasperated by my wanting a street dress and convinced me to rent a wedding gown. I found one I liked; they had to order one in my size so I had a new dress anyway. My folks planned for a reception in the back yard. I asked my Tonawanda second cousin Debbie Becker, daughter of my dad's Uncle Lee, to be my bridesmaid.

My second semester at Adrian was long and boring and yet I was content. I spent most of my time alone, sometimes talking with a friend in the Pub. I studied and read and waited for weekends when Gary would visit. He would crash with someone at the men's dorm. He had no money to buy meals and made peanut butter and pickle sandwiches from the open counter foods. 

Spring came and then school's end. Sam had left school and joined the service, and he and Marti had broken up. Marti and Jack became an item and later married. Lynn had left school and she later she joined the service. George had to find a job and save money to continue his schooling. He did marry Nancy. Other friends were graduating. Had I stayed at Adrian it would have seemed empty.
The People Collecting Club roster spring 1971
Two summers previous I had felt in limbo with Kimball in the past and Adrian in the future. Now, Adrian was to be in the past. Gary was my future. I had little idea of what that really meant.  

I spent the two weeks between school's end and our wedding reading War and Peace on the patio of the new house while Mom and Grandma agonized about the wedding. The dress did not arrive until the last minute. I wasn't worried; I figured I could just wear the going-away dress. I was unfazed and deep into the world of Pierre and Prince Andrei, Natasha, and Sonya.