Chapter 8 College Days at the University of Texas, Austin, Texas
The high cost of tuition at Austin College drove our decision for me to transfer to the University of Texas down at Austin, Texas for the fall semester of 1959. Entering as a junior, the usual plan was to graduate in two years.
Having not done as well as would have been expected at Austin College, it was immediately known that I would need to go for two years and at least an additional semester!
With being limited with funds, with no transportation (I walked everywhere É. To school É. To town, etc.), there was no social (dating) life evolved ever at the Austin campus. It was somewhat of a non-event series of three years, with my graduating with a BBA degree from the School of Business, majoring in Personnel Management and Industrial Relations (Labor Union Relations).
The selection of a major embracing Personnel Management was influenced partly by the experiences IÕd had in the many part time employments throughout my teenage and college years. It was evident to me that wisdom and knowledge were necessary ingredients to lead groups of people into successful accomplishments of the purposes for which they were employed. It also was an endeavor in which my expectation was developed in learning how to lead people with positive directions, encouragements and expectations, and knowing how to reward for those people for their successful achievements.
Student life at the University of Texas for me was somewhat uneventful. Being on such a narrow budget, my social life was about nil. I do not recall ever having a social date with a young woman in the student body, nor anyone from outside. My interface with friends centered in my work as a dish washer at the boarding house where that work provided for my meals. These were the days when I had no transportation. I walked everywhere. I even walked the dozen plus blocks to go to a movie theater downtown.
As IÕve commented sometimes, a primary function of college education is to learn to learn. After all, much of the technology I used later in my professional life was not even invented during my college years. The Personnel Management major was selected, because I thought working with people/employees would be interesting. A companion aspect with that major was the Industrial Relations aspect, which is working with Labor Unions, etc.
The fact is that my employment did not have any personnel supervisory roles, outside of occasionally having a secretary to direct, until I was in my mid-forties, age-wise. In my entire career, there never was interface with any Labor Union or labor union members.
Blockage in my college career seemed to harass me with unexpected delays. For example, the required report writing course being taken in what was supposedly my last semester, had a requirement announced one day in December that the semester report was due prior to Christmas vacation holiday. I was absent that day, due to having to take a Draft Board physical exam. Somehow, I never understood that requirement.
The tower, the main building overseeing the campus, had orange lights turn on the top portion of the building when UT won a sports game. The whole building was lit with orange when we won a league championship! Another thing many people donÕt notice is that building has scripture sculptured upon it. John 8:32 is cited, ÒYe shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.Ó
While I lived at my brother-in-lawÕs motherÕs home at 2616 Rio Grande Street, I washed dishes at Mrs. HudsonÕs boarding house a block away. I talk about that in Chapter 7. Across the street from Mrs. HudsonÕs was where a couple of my very best friends rented rooms, Richard (Dick) Hall White and Wilbert (Willie) Mynar. I only met Willie at the University of Texas setting. He was from an east Texas community and from recent ancestors who emigrated to America from the Czech Republic. Dick and I were competitors in dating the same young lady during our high school days in Dallas.
My senior year, 1961-1962 was when Dick, Willie and I decided to share a rented apartment, so we could provide our own cooking and living. We rented an apartment to the rear of a ladyÕs home on Red River Street, at the corner of Duncan Lane. We slept on bunk beds, and, to say the least, it was a modest apartment in size and appearance of furniture. But, we felt like it was kinda like Òhome.Ó
We basically created dinners for us to share together, and any other food consumption was on our own. We took turns cooking the dinner. We did grocery store shopping together, as we were sharing the costs. It seemed that Willie and I did more of the shopping than did Dick, who was a high class medical school aspirant. Willie was an Aerospace Engineer major, and I was a Business Administration degree major, of low esteem in their eyes.
I remember one thing upon which Willie and I agreed about after graduating and having real jobs. The one thing was that we would shop at grocery stores and not even bother with looking at the prices. We would be able to pay for whatever in the store we saw and wanted! And, I believe that, to a large extent, that condition has transpired. At least it has for me!
Dick graduated, I believe, in 1963 and went on to earn a medical degree at the University of Texas Medical School in Dallas. IÕve kept up with Dick off and on over the years. He spent most of his professional life in the Austin area, and weÕve gathered at a couple of reunions in the late 1900Õs. In 2018, he suffered a stroke that confined him, and his medical practice office was closed.
Willie graduated in 1963, I believe, and went on to be a successful aerospace engineer in the industry surrounding NASA (National Aerospace Administration). I didnÕt keep up with Willie. We did see each other once in the late 1960Õs. He visited us at hour home in the inner-city home we had in New Orleans. His being an engineer in the space industry, he was in New Orleans to be at NASA For some reason, our paths crossed after my retirement, perhaps around 2005. I learned that when the space industry downsized, he was out in California. He acquired a Bar-B-Que restaurant, and had a successful several decades in that business. He married Sarah (Sally) Farnell, and they had three children. We exchanged e-mails two or three times a year, till one day a daughter, Christine (Christy) Mynar Davis, returned my e-mail to report his passing, which was on July 16, 2012.
Christy and I agree to keep in touch. We did that over the intervening years. In the summer of 2017, Christy contacted me to say that her sister, Laurie Mynar Anderson, was moving to Frisco, TX where her husband, Cal, had taken a new employment position! Christy said sheÕd visit Texas soon and would welcome our having a meeting! So, this developed to be on Tuesday, September 19, 2017 when Laurie, Christy and their mother, Sally, all came out to our home in Aurora for a delightful visit and lunch. It really was an occasion to meld our families together that had had such a distant relation from years ago!
My last semester load was building up enough that I elected to complete the report writing project after the Christmas holiday. Unfortunately, that misinformed delay caused my failure in that course. It then became necessary for me to remain for one more semester to graduate! And graduate I did, as here is a photograph of my BBA Degree of June 1962.
Not only was I pleased to have graduated from the same University as did both of my parents (1925 & 1926), what I did not know is that all three of my children later attended the University of Texas at Austin, two of whom graduated from there and the other graduated from the University of Texas at Dallas.
The initial response to graduating a year later than normal was simply unfortunate. However, in the following chapter, it will be seen that this next-year delay, truly, was a delightful provision for my life! It led me to my wife!
Some other things shaped my life toward the end of my time at the University of Texas. A major factor in the lives of men was the Draft. That is the nickname for Conscription in the United States, the governmentÕs process for selecting eligible men to go into mandatory military service for at least two years.
The United States have operated a military draft function in four different periods of military conflict in our history, the most recent one, which affected me, was from 1940 through 1973. Any male age 18 or over had a mandatory duty to serve, unless that was some reason to delay or exempt that man from serving. My exemption had been a delay during my full-time pursuit as an enrolled college student.
Knowing that military service was an obligation for me, my thoughts were to decide what I would like to learn or accomplish in whatever military service that would be mine. Knowing that possessing a college degree would make me eligible to be trained as an officer, which was much better compensation and better professional opportunities. Men who were drafted without that credential or without interest in being an officer would serve only two years. Officers had to serve five years. Of course, in either case, when the end of those terms occurred, the military man would have the voluntary option to re-enlist.
My choice was to join the Navy and to be trained as a Navy Jet Fighter Pilot. However, if I could not qualify for Pilot School, my preference would be drafted into Army service for only two years. The Navy recruiting officer, who was encouraging me to join, arranged for me to take a ÒpracticeÓ Navy Pilots entrance exam. I passed, so made formal application to join the United States Navy.
The processing for my application including a background check, which revealed that a physician had treated me one year at my age of 15 for Asthma, a disease that disqualified anyone from being a pilot. So, my Navy application was rejected. For a while, it appeared that the Military Draft Board was going to take me as a two-year Army soldier. It was arranged for me to have a physical exam. After a few weeks, I was informed that my category in the Draft Board was changed to the permanent category of 4F, which meant permanent exemption from any duty for Military Service!
This Draft Board determination came midway through my last Semester in 1962. One emotion was great relief about not being drafted into the Army Infantry for two years. Another realization is that most all students graduating without plans or obligations for military service had already interviewed with employers recruiting among the graduating class for jobs. With just a few weeks left till graduation, I needed quickly, somehow, to find a job!
Many times, in my classes about business, one of the frequent examples of companies with outstanding personnel policies was International Business Machines, Inc. Yes, the same IBM for whom IÕd worked part time while at Austin College. The local branch office was consulted, and an appointment made with a manager for an employment interview. Upon arrival at the office, I completed an employment application. I didnÕt even have a resume prepared.
The manager interviewing me was Mr. Tony Luttrell. He was the Sales Manager for the Electric Typewriter Division. Apparently, he assumed I wanted to sell electric typewriters, and I affirmed certainly being interested in that. Such had not entered my mind, but there was a need to be interested in whatever he may be willing to employ me to do! After a series of interviews, an offer was made, which was accepted without hesitation. The begging salary was at an annual rate of $6,000! That may not be much in todayÕs understanding, but, to put it into perspective, that was in the top 10% of salaries being offered that year to graduating seniors.
Knowing now about what I know of being a Christian, I should have prayed about the rightness in GodÕs plan for my life before accepting this job. Having embraced belief in the God of the Holy Scriptures for quite some time, my college days had included experiencing some backsliding in my spiritual life. In retrospect, However, I did not. The need for employment was so vivid that the offer was immediately embraced. In retrospect, I now acknowledge that the Hand of GodÕs Providence for me was in this transaction, and it resulted in new directions in my life that shaped the marvelous life IÕve been privileged to live.
In negotiating the details about the work, my assertion of hope was to be assigned to Dallas for numerous reasons. Supposedly, the district in which I was hired would place me somewhere in Texas. I was to begin work on Monday, June 4, 1962. On Friday, June 1, I was called and instruction to appear for work on Monday at the IBM Branch Office at 2640 Canal Street in New Orleans, Louisiana!
My college graduation service was Saturday, June 2, the day I needed to drive, if I was to take the new employment. I skipped my college graduation! Our class was so big that we werenÕt to walk across the stage to receive the diploma anyway. At the appointed moment in the service, the class would be asked to stand in mass, with the proclamation being made for completion of work.
At that time in my life, everything I owned in the world could fit into my newly purchased car. My father had helped me to select a 1962 Chevrolet Biscayne 4-door, looking like the image here. Mine was slightly darker brown. The job of typewriter salesman required having a 4-door sedan to haul demonstrators in and out of offices. It was at the low end of the price line. My recollection was that its price was about $2,400. Dad put a few hundred dollars down for me, and I paid about $90/month for the next two years.
Saturday morning, with car fully loaded at my parentsÕ San Antonio home, I set out for New Orleans!