Wednesday, August 15, 2012

I went to college in one of those ubiquitious small mid-western church related liberal arts colleges.  How I ended up there is its own story but I was there in southeast Ohio for four years where we did all those standard rural college things like having parties in the cow pastures.  Actually, after I got over the first shock of being in a town with literally one gas station, one pharmacy, one barber shop, a dry-cleaners, and the co-op which was a combination grocery and anything else you may need hiding in there someplace store (think general store of old), I actually learned to like it. This was the late '60s and things were exploding all over the place.  We were not immune from those news stories.  Although we didn't have television (the only tv I remember was in the student union where we all gathered when they read out the draft lottery numbers.)  we did read newpapers and magazines in the library. I remember having to have a signup sheet for the Washington Post and the New York Times.

I met very nice people who came from mostly Ohio, Pennsylvania and, for some reason I still don't understand, New Jersey. We all had similar economic backgrounds which was very lower to middle middle-class. Our parents worked hard and had saved money to get us to college and we all had some kind of job to help pay our bills (I had the best job on earth as the language lab attendant on FRIDAY afternoons. Do you know how many people showed up at the language lab on Friday afternoon? Exactly zero. So I basically got paid to do homework.)

I am not good at keeping up with people and in those days it was harder than now. You had to write letters as phone calls were expensive, and I left Ohio on graduation day never to return.  I have made contact with a couple of people through facebook and now I lurk on other former classmates facebook pages.  So far I haven't found anyone who is not politically very liberal and I have a sense of wonder and almost awe regarding that.

Is it that we were forming our political conscience during the Vietnam War?  or that we received  strong ethical foundations? (I hesitate to say moral because that has been co-opted by bigots.)  Or was it that we were part of a strong middle class background and we understood the advantages we had been given and were grateful and wanted to do our pay back by doing good for others?  By any measure we did not attend a "liberal" school but of everyone I've stalked we are all very liberal.  I hope that the school is still managing to instill a social conscience in their students.

1 comment:

Hattie said...

I know just the kind of small college you mean. I took some biology classes at a Catholic college near Madison. That was some culture shock for me, coming from San Francisco. Everyone was so nice, and I was kind of edgy. Maybe the nuns made me nervous.
It really does reassure me to hear that your classmates are so liberal, since that area is such a battleground in this election.