BARRY'S BLOG     fbfawana@aol.com

IN HIS GRIP

A COLLECTION OF LIFE EXPERIENCES PASSED ON
TO MY GRANDCHILDREN



MAROON AND ORANGE

“Red and Black, throw ‘em back!” worked well as a cheer at Warwick. “Blue and gold, let’s be bold!” worked fine at Penn Manor. “Blue and white, keep up the fight!” was great at Penn State. But “Maroon and orange, ???? ” just didn’t work at Susquehanna. Is there any word in the English language that actually rhymes with orange?

Maroon and orange – sounds terrible at first. But, after four years it grows on you. And, some shades really don’t look bad together. In fact they can actually look very nice together. The school colors are probably the only “complaint” I might have about my four years at Susquehanna. In fact, these years were probably the most exciting and memorable of my life.

Susquehanna was the only school to which I applied. Grandpa Kauffman had graduated from there, but he never really promoted it. But, in some respects it was like going home – I had many friends and relatives in that area. It wasn’t far from home, only about two hours. They had the math/science program that I wanted. I was able to get some financial aid to help with the expense. And, years later, I have no doubt that was where God wanted me to be for four years.

I will never forget my first day on campus. I was the last of the roommates to arrive. Our room in Selinsgrove Hall was an oversized converted storage room with little room to spare. I had to settle for a top bunk, but that was fine since I had the top bunk at home. There was barely enough room left for my belongings. Incidentally, a couple of years later this “dorm” was converted back to an office building and is still used for that today.

One of my roommates was Glen Hostetter from West Lawn. Glen and I spent much time together during the next four years working with the basketball team. Another was Woody Hipple, from Lancaster, who became a Lutheran minister and that was his goal in life. The other was John Lewis who was there just one semester

In the room next to me was Jim Herrold from Shamokin. I didn’t know Jim before we met but he knew of me. He had been dating Violet Johnson who I had known from Mizpah Grove and other church gatherings. I have no doubt that God placed Jim there for a reason. Not only were we both math majors, but we also both loved the Lord and enjoyed being together.

Selinsgrove was a nice, friendly town. Folks would wave to you and stop and talk to you as you walked downtown. Preparing for classes was a challenge and I spent many hours studying. I struggled in Chemistry and German although I did receive good grades in these courses. It was just quite an adjustment from high school. I recall experiencing homesickness for the first time in my life. I remember waiting for those Friday nights when my parents would come to visit both me and their family in Sunbury. Letters and newspapers from home meant so much.

Things improved as I became involved in church and with the Gospel Four. I attended prayer meetings twice a week and Sunday services, often thanks to the sacrifice of Herman Hauck and his family. They were from Shamokin Dam. Herman drove an old black limo. He would faithfully pick me up for services and take me home afterwards. I guess there were some advantages to being the grandson of the pastor. Some nights I would get an early ride to Sunbury and then I’d walk to the church. Then I’d crawl in a basement window and spend the time studying until it was time for prayer meeting to begin.

My worst college memories were those related to gym classes. My second year, a former Marine, Bob Windish, was hired as an assistant football coach. He ran his gym classes like the Marines, and, while I liked athletics, I wasn’t in “marine condition”. Fortunately I never threw up or passed out, but many of my classmates did. This was the only class I ever dreaded. I was much happier when I had old Coach Stagg – Amos Alonzo Stagg’s son – who preferred to let us shoot basketball or go out and play tennis or golf.

As a freshman, I became involved with the basketball team as manager, scorekeeper, and statistician. This was a special experience. That year Susquehanna brought in a great freshman class that included Clark Mosier, a little All-American, and Bill Moore, a 28 year-old veteran with four children. Bill commuted from Shamokin each day, carried a full course load at Susquehanna, played basketball and worked for a tire dealer. He was quite a man. Many years later I learned that Bill had become a Christian and was serving the Lord. John Barr, an All-American basketball player at Penn State, coached the team. Because of his connections we went to Penn State each year to scrimmage the Lions at Rec Hall.

This group had the most successful four-year run of any basketball team at Susquehanna. We traveled by bus throughout a four-state area including many overnight stays in New York City. The bus trips were long and I spent many hours studying and sleeping as we traveled. Many mornings we arrived back at 3 or 4 and then had classes at 8 a.m. It was hard, but I learned to budget my time and my grades often were the best during basketball season. The players were like one big family and we enjoyed our hours together.

My second year Jim and I roomed together in GA Hall, which burnt down a few years later. It was an old wooden building and I’m not surprised that it couldn’t be saved. We roomed with a football player who later became a surgeon and physician for the Atlanta Falcons. He did not take care of anything in the room and left everything in filthy condition – such as apple cores thrown on the floor. I would be afraid to have him do any surgery on me.

That year I also became statistician for the football team and I traveled to all the games, by air and bus. I was responsible for reporting all the stats to the NCAA as I had done for basketball. This was the beginning of a new era in football at SU. Coach Jim Garrett turned the program into one of the finest small-college programs in the country. He had a fullback, Larry Kerstetter, who never lost a yard carrying the ball in four years. It was an exciting experience being with them. They reached the pinnacle of success the year after I graduated. We drove to Philadelphia to see them upset Temple during the era when Temple was a big-time Division I program.

We had some exciting times flying to games. On one trip we had to return to the airport since the pilot was receiving a signal that the luggage compartment was open. I envisioned football equipment landing and scattered all over northern Pennsylvania. But it was fine. On another flight we were to land at Williamsport. There is a mountain right next to the runway and months earlier a plane had crashed into the mountain. Our landing was delayed for over an hour while we circled because of heavy fog. Suddenly we began to land. The clouds cleared and all I could see was water. It was very scary! But we landed safely – in New Cumberland. We didn’t know that our flight had been diverted because of the fog. What a relief.

Two years after I graduated, Coach Garrett ambitiously scheduled scrimmages on the same day with both Princeton and West Chester. He split his team into two groups to scrimmage. As a result, they suffered several serious injuries. As the season started his team was unusually weak due to these injuries. During a game he hit his quarterback, out of frustration, when he came off the field. Following the game he was arrested and then released. The President of the University finished the season as head coach, getting much national attention. That was the end of one of the most exciting eras in Susquehanna sports history. This incident also hurt the career of a potentially great coach. However, he did later spend some years as an assistant in the NFL. His twin sons played for Princeton and one even played a few years in the NFL.

My involvement in sports took much of my time during my years in college. It also led to scholarship help for my work as chief statistician for football and basketball. I did manage to get involved in a few other activities. I spent some time working on the school’s yearbook and also with the ham radio club. For a year I corrected papers for one of the math professors. I also enjoyed participating in intramurals, especially football and softball.

A growing amount of time was spent in Sunbury, visiting relatives, attending church, and visiting with a young lady named Dianne Bickle. Most Friday nights I would get a ride to Sunbury and meet her when she finished work at the bank. I always tried to make a stop at a farmer’s market in Shamokin Dam to pick up some good sticky buns to take back to the dorm. Saturdays and Sundays we managed to find things to do together – sometimes it was just being together while I studied.

Saturday nights I would stay with the Wolfs and I would eat dinner and supper with them on Sunday. Grandma Wolf was frugal – she always served juice, which was a mixture of all the juices and syrups left over from the week. She also taught me to eat salads since she always placed one at my spot and I was too embarrassed not to eat it. As soon as we would get home from church Grandpa Wolf would go over the Sunday School cards and call the absentees. After dinner he would take his daily nap and study for the evening. Then in the late afternoon he would watch football games with me and as we followed the new exciting American Football League together. The exceptions to this schedule would be when we had visiting speakers and missionaries and this happened quite often. These visits provided me a special earning experience and a time of spiritual growth. These Sunday times together were very special – don’t take your hours with your grandparents for granted. Those days and experiences will pass before you know it and someday you’ll wish you could relive those times.

I also developed many special relationships during these years at church ... Paul Brosious, Ron and Joyce Acker, Norm and June Zellers, Darlis Miller and many special members of the congregation.

I also got home to Lititz frequently. My mode of travel was mostly by using my thumb – hitchhiking. It was rather easy to get a ride out of Selinsgrove since folks knew you were a college student. The biggest problem was getting through Harrisburg and a number of times I had to walk across the bridge at Harrisburg. Usually it took just three rides to get home, Selinsgrove-Harrisburg, Harrisburg-Lancaster, and Lancaster-Lititz. Usually it took a little over two hours. Only once was I scared. A truck filled with folks who looked like gypsies wanted to take me to Harrisburg, but I was able to find an excuse to turn down their offer. The Lord really protected me, although hitchhiking was much more acceptable and safer in those days.

Most of the time my parents would take me back to school although a few times I did take the train back to Sunbury. That was a special experience that I probably didn’t really appreciate then. I never expected that passenger service to Sunbury would someday end. I often wish I could take that ride once again.

Jim and I survived our sophomore year with our unusual roommate, although we did try to move to an apartment in town, but the school wouldn’t allow that. Then SU built a new men’s dorm and Jim and I moved to luxury in our own corner room with brand new furniture and plenty of room. I also served as a floor monitor for which I received scholarship help. It was a remarkable change from our first two years. But, I guess we both felt that something was missing. Jim decided to get married during Thanksgiving and while he maintained his room at school, he wasn’t there very much after that. I decided to get married that June and we moved into the “apartment” with Gramps and Muz. Jim and I spent our senior year as commuters and we developed some good friendships with a number of other students who commuted from the Sunbury and Shamokin areas.

Much of my time in classes was spent in the old Steele Science Building. Physics labs and classes were held in the basement and I spent many hours there. While I had a major in Physics, I never really enjoyed these classes – I guess I just didn’t really have a scientific mind like my father. It didn’t come naturally and I learned by rote. I enjoyed the math part and math is the language of physics. I originally entered Susquehanna as an engineering student planning on spending three years at SU and then two years at the University of Pennsylvania to get my degree. I soon realized that this wasn’t really for me. However, I did get straight A’s in all my physics courses and was inducted into the Physics National Honor Society, Sigma Pi Sigma at Bucknell University.

Math classes were generally on the second floor of Steele. The windows to the left had a beautiful view of the mountains on the other side of the Susquehanna River. While I enjoyed my math classes, I spent many many moments during those four years daydreaming and enjoying this special view. I often am reminded of this when we travel to Selinsgrove along routes 11 and 15. However, the view isn’t as spectacular as the one from those windows on the second floor.

Education courses were part of my curriculum and, as is often the case, they were generally easy and of little practical value. We did take a field trip to Reading to see some innovative practices. I had gone home over night and my parents were to take me to Reading to meet our group. I was driving to Reading, outside of Rothsville, when a car came out a side road and broadsided us. Thank the Lord, nobody was hurt. We were able to drive the car enough that I could at least make my connections and get back to school. This was another example of the Lord’s leading and His protection in my life.

The one valuable education course was student teaching. In those days you just taught one course rather than spend an entire day in a school. I was assigned for the semester to a senior math class in Shikellamy High in Sunbury. This was a great experience and helped make me realize that the Lord wanted me to be a high school teacher. One of my students was Lorraine Acker who later married my friend Paul. They were the parents of Lisa Beamer. I also had the opportunity to help coach track while I was there, giving me some experience to enable me to coach when I landed my job at Penn Manor.

Graduation was also a special time. Our outdoor graduation was interrupted by rain and we had to move indoors to conclude the program. And, Seibert Hall was really too small to handle this ceremony for the largest class in Susquehanna’s history.

While I was anxious to graduate and get on with life, graduation really came too quickly. I had grown up so much during these four years and I had learned so much and made many good friends. As I look back now, these were special years that the Lord used profoundly in my life. Today many college students lose their faith during these years. Thank the Lord, mine was strengthened. I pray that this may be your experience, too. In recent years, as we’ve visited Gramps in Selinsgrove, I’ve been reminded, as we drive by the campus, how special these years were and how many great memories I have. The campus has changed but the memories are still there.

I guess maybe that is it – “Orange and maroon, over too soon!”

 
 


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