Mixsonian Larry

Going to Class

I thought that going to the University would be like high school, classes with teachers for each subject and in different classrooms, and it was but on a totally different scale. While GHS was big with 3,000 students and had three wings of classrooms on ten acres, the university had 25,000 students and had dozens of buildings spread out over 2,000 acres and each building was a “Hall” with a name.  I was familiar with the chemistry building, Leigh Hall since Dad worked there and I had been to the Physics Williamson Hall when I took my first Fortran class, but now I had classes in Anderson Hall, Norman Hall, Little Hall and then the Gymnasium for physical education PLM-101. The Halls were spread out across the campus, something that didn’t occur to me while registering but finding I had to run a quarter mile across campus in less than fifteen minutes to get from one class to the next.  Fortunately, I only had to do that for one class, my other classes had one, two and even three hours between them depending on the day which allowed me to schedule work hours at the computing center between them. 

While American Institutions and English were much like high school classes with around thirty students, but Chemistry and Physics were a different story, the classes were huge, with over a hundred students in each.  Chemistry class was interesting in that I had been in Leigh hall before but always in the back stockrooms where Dad worked, I had never seen the public, student side of the building and was surprised at the grandness of it, twenty foot high hallways, beautiful wood paneling, a grand staircase leading to the second floor.  I entered the auditorium where my class was to be held and it was huge with tiered seating like a movie theater filled with students.   Physics was much the same in the same auditorium I took my first Fortran class and again filled with students.  Basic Physical Education was held in the gymnasium which I had been a couple of basketball games with Dad, and I had been to for my high school graduation, so I was familiar with the building.  Fortunately, we were not required to use the locker room, I could arrive dressed in my PE clothes and leave afterwards without using the shower, that was a blessing for I hated locker rooms and particularly their group showers. 

Going to the University was the first time I went to a new school in which I didn’t know or see anyone I knew. When I started school at Littlewood, Westwood and then at GHS there were always other kids in my classes and at the school who I knew while at the University there were none, increasing my feeling of aloneness and isolation. 

Sometimes between classes when I didn’t have to work, I would hang out the Plaza of Americas in the center of the campus which is in front of the library. There were always interesting things going on the Plaza, people playing music, small groups of people gathered, and then there were the Hare Krishnas.  The Hare Krishnas were a strange group of people who would sit on the ground in pink robes and shaved heads, chanting “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare” over and over while one of them played a drum while students gathered around them. I was intrigued by who they were and what they were saying.  At first, I watched from afar as I sat on a bench on the plaza, then I walked past I would pause and listen to what they were saying, and then finally one day I stopped and sat down among students around them.  They talked of peace and love, later I would learn they were Hara Krishna followers that practiced Bhakti Yoga.  They often offered food to those gathered reminding me of Jesus feeding the multitudes. At first, I politely refused the food then one day relented and accepted an inch sized ball of something, I took a bite and yuck, it wasn’t very good.  I couldn’t just spit it out, I was taught better manners than that, so I managed to eat the rest of the ball before leaving to go find a water fountain to wash it all down. 

I enjoyed my classes, surprisingly even English and American Institutions where we studied such books as The Metamorphosis by Kafka  and The Invisible Man, not the science fiction story by H. G. Wells but rather by Ralph Ellison. Although I did well in math in high school, Calculus was harder than I expected.  Introduction to Chemistry wasn’t that difficult and the thing I remember most about it was that one of the first classes they taught us how to use a slide rule. [photo]  Wikipedia describes the slide rule as “a mechanical analog computer which is used primarily for multiplication and division, and for functions such as exponents, roots, logarithms”.  It would be a couple more years before the modern handheld calculators would come out.  At the time there were large mechanical desk top calculators that did addition and subtraction and were mainly used by accountants, but there were none that did exponents, roots and logs which were needed for chemistry and physics, thus the amazing slide rule was used.  When I told Dad I was taking into to chemistry and needed a slide rule he said he could get me one and the next day he gave came home from work with a high quality slide rule with leather case that he got from, appropriately, from the Chemistry Department’s lost and found.

My Slide Rule
Slide Ruler

Updated: 11-29-2022

On My Own