I wrote this story several years ago, but was reminded of it this week as college classes begin.




They have torn down Case Hall. Nothing is left of the brick dormitory on the University of Nebraska at Kearney’s campus.

I can’t believe it was 57 years ago that Mom and Dad took me to Kearney with one suitcase, and some bedding to live away from home for the first time. I had taught country school for a year and saved my money to go to college for 2 years to be able to teach in town.

My room was on 3rd floor and it was quite a walk up all the steps. The room was small with two beds that were more like cots. They folded up into the wall to make room for us to get around. There was a small desk for each of us and a sink in the corner behind the door. Each of us had a small closet and that was adequate to hold the few clothes I had sewed over the summer. It didn’t take long to get to know the girls. We were really eager to start our new life. Some of the girls complained about the one bathroom on each wing. There were several showers and several stalls. I kept my mouth shut, as I thought it was pretty good after living without indoor plumbing on the farm. Even the electricity was a luxury to me. It didn’t take long to get to know a lot of the girls were from small towns or the country, so we weren’t used to a lot.

There was a phone down the hall and it was quite a thrill to get a call. I seldom called home, because Mom always answered by saying, “What’s wrong?” She always expected bad news. Besides it was a waste of money.

We didn’t have a radio in our room. We would go to the campus café or the student union and play the jukebox.

After about the first couple of weeks, we got to know a lot of people and learned a few things we were better off not knowing. The cigarette companies gave away free cigarettes for awhile and a lot of us took up the habit. The lounge area on the first floor was called the passion pit. That is where the girls could meet their boy friends. The housemother glared at you, but that didn’t stop some of them. We had to be in at 10 on weeknights and 12 on weekends. If you didn’t make it, you either had to ring the bell and make an excuse to the housemother or have a friend on first floor to let you in through her window. You better not have beer on your breath, but a lot of us did. We thought we were very worldly, but we really weren’t. Two beers and you had a good time. Besides noone had any money.

There were 3 local sororities on campus and when they asked you to come to their parties, you were very flattered. I joined the Delta Pi Betas. Some of them were real party girls, but pretty tame by today’s standards. We would have formal dances and also were invited to fraternity dances. A lot of the girls met their future husbands. I never did. I guess I didn’t stay long enough.

Sometimes my roommate and I would baby sit for her sister in town and bring our laundry to her new automatic washer. It was the first one I ever saw. We would take it back to the dorm and hang it up in the basement. You could never hang your underpants outside (we had clothes lines) because they were always stolen.

We walked everywhere. I only remember one girl with a car and she was a senior and drank a lot so we didn’t bum rides with her. Sometimes we walked clear to the south side of Kearney across the tracks to buy ten-cent hamburgers. Sometimes a boy friend was handy to have, but it just tied you down.

My grades were nothing to brag about, because I was always having too much fun to study and then at the last minute would stay up and cram, but I passed everything and never dropped a class.

The second semester I could see that I would never have enough money to stay for two years so I took an extra heavy load of classes and 12 hours of summer school and got a temporary teaching permit. Summer school was no fun. All the cool kids went home and a lot of teachers came to take classes. I was really tired of school by then and ready to get a job. I have not kept in touch with any of my friends and I wish I knew what happened to some of them. I just found out one of the girls that I shared student teaching with is the mother of the President of the University at Kearney. Never would have believed it.

It was only a year, but I will never forget Case Hall.

Published in: on August 24, 2011 at 12:35 am  Leave a Comment  



Clay Center has decided the one priority is a cleanup of Downtown.

Anyone who has studied the history of Clay Center will be able to tell you how proud the people were of this small city (and it was considered a city with door to door mail delivery).

People had hope and pride. They were proud to live in the center of it all.

They were pioneers in the industrial age.

They were patriots during the war years. Anyone who lives in an older home with an upstairs will find evidence of an upstairs apartment to house the many military and workers who were stationed at the near by airbase. The High School was used for the USO to make the soldiers feel more at home.

The people in the earlier years were proud to keep their bills paid. They didn’t expect a handout.

Clay Center has always been proud of their veterans who tried so hard to bring the town back after they came home. Only to see their children leave for greener pastures.

It seems we are always expecting the government to come in and take care of our problems, only to find it just causes more problems.

One example of what can be done without grants is the Super Senior Center. A group of people banded together and remodeled a building with volunteer help. They looked into grants, but found there were always strings attached. It is a great place to meet and is a bright spot on the west side of the square.

There are certain things that will need more than volunteers to clean up the square. It would not be recommended to tear down buildings with volunteer help for legal reasons.

It will take more than good intentions, maybe even some tax money to get things done.

This is certainly a scary time to start something new.

If you think this is scary read MM Johnson’s story about coming to Clay Center with only change in his pocket and building an industry know throughout the United States.

We can’t live in the past, but the future is up to us.

And by the way I am an independent voter. I will try to find someone to vote for who is a statesman and not a politician.

Published in: on August 10, 2011 at 3:56 pm  Leave a Comment