Starting college was an exciting event for a country boy. Not physically frightening, but emotionally afraid of being embarrassed. We all had to take the English test before registering and English wasn’t exactly my best subject. Even though I graduated with honors, I remember being worried I would have to take dumbbell English. But I didn’t. I signed up for the required English, Religion, and Phys. Ed. along with calculus and chemistry, a stiff 18 hour course.
My friend, Dickie, and I decided to go out for football. Dickie was about my weight, only shorter and I weighed 140 pounds. This wasn’t bad for a quarterback such as Dickie was, but when I told the freshman coach I played tackle, he almost laughed. But he issued the pants, pads, and jersey and told me to play in gym shoes because he was out of my size. We exercised for three days with the squad without seeing any scrimmage at all. Then the coach suggested that we both better wait until we grew up. That was the end of our college football career.
We had made arrangements to commute to school with my old debating partner, Brig Peterson who was a big sophomore by now. He had bought a new 1938 Ford Standard and five of us paid him 7 dollars a month to ride to school. The driving was probably the most fun of going to school. Brig liked to drive a little fast, so we always drove with one guy sitting backwards as “cop watcher.” Of course, a brisk rivalry developed between the town policemen and the college commuters. Due to our diligent “cop watchers” we never had to pay a single fine.
All freshmen had to wear little blue beanies around school for the first six weeks and be hazed by all upperclassmen. At the end of the six weeks hazing period, all freshman had to climb up “Y” Mountain and paint the letter. On the way up, I ran into my old nemesis Buss Webb and talked and worked with him until time to return. Then, of course, he and I had to have another race back down to the school. 2 ¾ miles down twisting mountain path to the brook that rang along the edge of the campus. So he could beat me at the mile, but not 2 ¾ miles. After we reached the creek we stopped to rest and wait for the rest of the group. The upper classmen had sent about a dozen fellows along to supervise the painting project. All went well for them until the body of the group reached the creek with us. Some bright upperclassman got the idea of throwing some freshmen into the creek for initiation. Only there were several hundred freshmen and maybe a dozen upperclassmen Guess who went into the creek. We then became a mob and started down the campus throwing every upperclassman into the nearest creek, fountain, or any water available. This was my first witness of mob action. The gang just became uncontrollable. And woe unto the upperclassman in the way. We had finally reached the lower campus before a gutsy little student officer finally talked the bunch of us into breaking it up. That was the last time I wanted anything to do with a mob.
After a few days the track coach looked me up and invited me to come out for the cross-country team, thanks to my friend Buss. I ran for about a week and the carpool gave me an ultimatum—Quit track or walk home. That was the end my college track career.
About this time, sugar beets had to be harvested and I was obliged to help. Only college didn’t have a beet vacation and at the end of one week, I found myself so far behind, I was forced to drop chemistry. But I picked up the other classes and had all As and Bs at quarter’s end.
After dropping football and track aspirations, I ended up in a boxing class. This was, in itself, fun learning an art I considered I was pretty good at. But the difference was, how I had to learn control. We boxed for then to twenty minutes each period after warm-ups and back work, etc. If anyone knocked his opponent down, he had to box with the instructor or one of the assistant instructors. One of the assistants was a guy named Howards Stutts who was intermountain AAU champion lightweight.
We learned to control ever punch and block. We also learned to punch and regularly measured our punching power. I could do better than most. With my long frame, arms, and farm boy strength, I could hold my own with about any student. One day I was boxing with a friend from Payson when he missed with a long right lead. I countered with a short left hook to his ribs. He dropped like a poled ox. And didn’t get up. I was never so scared standing above my friend wondering if I’d killed him or something. Finally, he moved and I began breathing again. After that, I was much more serious about controlling punches. I got the usual boxing lesson from Mr. Stutts, but he didn’t hurt me so all came out alright.
During boxing class, I learned an interesting thing about me. It is difficult to take my pulse, and impossible in the usual manner. At the beginning of boxing class we were required to take a physical to be sure we were all able and hardy. So they bought a team of senior football players who were working their way through school in to do the examinations. A big blonde tackle was taking pulses and when he couldn’t find my pulse, he became really mad. He thought I was pulling a joke on him and about whipped me before the nurse came to my rescue.
At the second quarter I had to find another course to replace chemistry that I had dropped. I decided to take Drama from T. Earl Pardoe. It proved to be a very interesting situation. T. Earl was an interesting teacher and had a tremendous amount of experience in the drama field. He was a consultant to Cecil B. DeMille on many of his movies. Dr. Pardoe was smallish, pugnacious little rascal, but Mrs. Pardoe was tall, beautiful, very regal person and she was as famous as he was. Together they were an interesting couple. They directed all the school plays together and I was asked to be in one. Practices were each evening and I would miss my ride home every night. The fascination became so great, I began considering a drama career. Then one day, I looked in the mirror and decided back to engineering.
Each Wednesday evening they had a “mat” dance about 4:00 p.m. and nearly every student went to the dances. They were great fun and very friendly. You could just pop up and ask any girl to dance with you and she would. Everyone was just another student and no snobs. The whole car pool used to wait for the dances.
Another fun time was lunch time. All school teams would meet at the men’s gym and play basketball until the first P.E. class. Since the boxing class was a 1:00pm class, I started to go early and worked my way into the noon-hour games. Pretty soon I was playing with the varsity as well as the reserve and freshman teams. I could hold my own and by the sophomore year had made enough friends that I decided I would try for the varsity next year. But things took a change and plans changed.