Saturday, November 13, 2010

A Bayou Runs Through It

It's likely true that the lessons you learn as a teenager do as much to cement the real values in your life as anything else. That said, I spent many of my teenage years attending college in Monroe, Louisiana. Majoring in geology, I took many science courses but I also dabbled in English and the arts. Probably the most important course that I took at Northeast Louisiana was a lesson in life - a lesson in how to cope in a world filled with no family and mostly strangers.

When I attended NLSC, a gallon of gas cost thirty cents, or less. A Coke was a nickel and you could buy a pitcher of beer for a dollar. My favorite watering hole, along with that of most of the male population of the college was the Trianon. I wrote about the Trianon in my short story A Talk with Henry. Henry was a real person and I took much of the dialogue for the story from actual conversations.

I started college during summer school, at the tender age of seventeen. My Brother Jack and close friend Elwin also attended summer school the same year. The year was 1964. There was an air show at the airport that summer and a local pilot offered plane rides in his Beechcraft Bonanza for a penny a pound. Jack, Elwin and I all took our first ride in an airplane for a cost of less than five dollars.

A Bayou runs through the campus of what is now the University of Louisiana at Monroe. During summer, Bayou DeSiard is a hot spot for students. While not quite Florida, sun bathing students line the beach and it was, and is, a great place to meet members of the opposite sex. Jack, Elwin and I went swimming every day that semester and even light-skinned Eric had a tan before the end of summer.

At night, Jack, Elwin and I would haunt the Trianon. There were gambling machines, the walls black, lighting dim and music loud. We chugged lots of beer and discussed every important world issue there was. At summer's end, Jack and Elwin both flunked out, unable to return the next semester because of poor grades. I made it, passing, but barely.

Today, I can't remember a single course that I took that summer. As far as grades are concerned, I almost flunked my first semester in college, but now it doesn't seem so important. Looking back, I think that I probably aced the part of my life that was most significant at the time.


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