Peevish Pen

Ruminations on reading, writing, rural living, retirement, aging—and sometimes cats. And maybe a border collie or other critters.

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Location: Rural Virginia, United States

I'm an elderly retired teacher who writes. Among my books are Ferradiddledumday (Appalachian version of the Rumpelstiltskin story), Stuck (middle grade paranormal novel), Patches on the Same Quilt (novel set in Franklin County, VA), Them That Go (an Appalachian novel), Miracle of the Concrete Jesus & Other Stories, and several Kindle ebooks.

Monday, September 03, 2012

Best Move

Forty-nine years ago, I made what is probably the best move of my life. I went away to college.

Me—Summer 1963

I moved 180 miles from Roanoke to Richmond where I would attend—and eventually earn a degree from—Richmond Professional Institute (which became Virginia Commonwealth University the year after I graduated). The 1964 issue of The Cobblestone will give you an idea of what the school was like my freshman year. Here I am at the top of the page:

Although a couple of cousins had attended business college, I was the first in my family to go away to college. I first heard about RPI from a fellow cast member when I was in a 1961 Showtimers play. I decided to look into RPI. In 1962, it was the only place I applied, and I was accepted. All four years, I lived in Founders Hall.

In the early 60s, career options for women were limited to secretary, nurse, and teacher. I hated to type (Who knew computers would come along?), and I hated the idea of sitting at a desk all day, so a career as a secretary was out. As for being a nurse, I hated the sight of blood (although I've gotten over that now). At least teachers got the summer off. I liked English and drama, so I majored in drama education.

This turned out to be a wise choice for several reasons. Upon graduation, I'd be certified to teach English, speech, and drama. If I'd majored in English, I'd have been certified to teach just English. I could get a state teacher's scholarship, which paid about a third of my costs each year. Because drama majors had to take stagecraft, costume construction, and stage lighting, I learned basic carpentry, sewing, and enough basic electricity to rewire a lamp. Practical stuff.

Me—October 1963

Going away from home was also a good decision. In 1963, there was no Virginia Western Community College, or else I might have lived at home the first two years. While I might have attended Roanoke College or Hollins—both private colleges, either would have cost way more than the state-supported RPI.  Had I lived at home while attending classes, my education would have been a lot more limited. In Richmond, I learned to live on my own—do my own laundry, budget my time, decide when and what to eat, etc. I learned to live with a lot of other folks from all over the country and who had different backgrounds and interests from mine. Besides attending a wide variety of campus events, I visited many of Richmond's tourist attractions. I particularly like the Virginia Museum and its theatre. And I also liked going horseback riding at Up-And-Away Dude Ranch out Staples Mill Road.

During summer breaks, I held jobs that would help me with my career choice. After my freshman year, I worked in the children's room of the Roanoke Public Library; the next two summers, I was a teacher's aide in Roanoke County's Project Headstart. After graduation, I had no problem getting a teaching job. Poquoson High School, then a part of York County Schools, was looking for someone to start a drama program. I coached drama, and taught one speech & drama class and four English 10 classes.

My four years at RPI cost about $5,000 for room, board, & tuition—a real bargain by today's standards.
Note: I've blogged about RPI before: and and



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lavender was certainly YOUR color... and oh oh oh... what a great mid century sofa that some young people would simply die for to have these days! Thanks for sharing this wonderful time in your life with us!

12:27 PM  
Blogger CountryDew said...

Education is so important. I look at what is going on now in academia and shudder. We need more learning, not less.

12:57 PM  
Blogger Beatrice P. Boyd said...

Hi Becky, enjoyed this post as a first-time visitor stopping in from Anita's Blue COuntry Magic blog. We also live in VA on the eastern shore (transplanted from our native NJ) in a 100+ year old Victorian. And, we are planning a road trip through VA Blue Ridge country in early Oct (Columbus Day timeframe). Our hope is to meet fellow bloggers along the route as well. We've met a few on previous travels and it's been great fun! Already, we are hoping to meet Anita and she's suggested other VA bloggers, including yourself. You can learn more about us at our blog (the frogandpenguinn) and we do read and appreciate all visits and comments especially. I will be reading back posts on your blog as well.

8:18 AM  

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