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Lessons learned outside classroomPosted Monday, September 24, 2007, at 6:00 PM
I received an e-mail from someone, who I think was trying to be helpful, advising me because I hadn't been to college I shouldn't hold it against those with college degrees.
What I said in a previous blog pertained to my belief we have many good, solid tax-paying citizens who never saw the inside of a college, but are blessed with good common sense and we can all learn from these people.
To set the record straight I was a horrible high school student and will gladly accept a minimum of 95 percent credit for that academic shortcoming. I had this habit of reading what I wanted to read rather than what I was assigned to read.
Two weeks after I graduated from high school I entered the U.S. Navy for four years…and after that stint went to college on the G.I. Bill.
Some may not like what I am going to say about going from high school into college in the 1950s. I can't speak for all areas of the nation, although it may have been similar in all areas, but in Shelbyville and Bedford County it was often a case of if your parents could send you to college, you got a draft deferment.
For the majority of us it was either wait to be drafted or go ahead and enlist in military service.
Something must have happened to me during those four years of military service. Whatever happened, probably discipline and getting my priorities straight, I went from horrible high school student to good college student who graduated in the upper 10 percent of his class…in three years.
To supplement the G.I. Bill I worked part time in construction work, sometimes even between classes. I learned a lot from those men, black and white, on those jobs who never had the college experience. They urged me to do well in my classes and a few times when they knew I had a test coming up, they waited almost as anxiously as I did to learn my grade on that test.
Yep, I admired those guys then and admire people like them today, people who work hard to give their families a better life. We may not call it a degree, but we can all learn from them and their ideas on life.
Going back to my admitted horrible high school days and that habit of reading what I wanted to read at the expense of other assignments, I had an unusual experience during my senior year.
I walked into a classroom a little late one morning and the teacher put me down from the start and not for being a little late. The Nobel Prize had been awarded to someone and that was very much in the news.
"I know I'm wasting my time asking you this. No one else has given me the right answer and I'm sure you have no idea or have even heard of him. Who is Alfred Nobel?" she said.
Without hesitation, I said he is known as the inventor of dynamite.
She went into a semi-rage, demanding to know who had told me. When I said no one and pointed out I had just walked through the door, she accused me of telling her a lie. I heard later that day she had told at least one other class that I had told her a lie.
That bothered me then, but I was of the opinion, also without proof, that she favored students from well-to-do families. Perhaps we both probably jumped to conclusions.
Not too long after I graduated from college, I ran into that high school teacher. She greeted me with that same old sneer and remarked, "I hear you're actually trying to go to college. How long has it been since you graduated from high school?"
"Seven years," I replied with a smile. "The first four years I was in the Navy. I've just graduated from college in three years. Do you want to compare college transcripts with me?"
She snorted and walked away.
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Bo Melson is a retired sports and police beat editor of the Times-Gazette.