|Biographical Non-Fiction posted July 27, 2011||Chapters:||...7 8 -9- 9...|
Plans for farming were meant for service.
A chapter in the book Short-Lived Admiration:
Bluegrass Farm, Stepping Stone
Up to this point, chapters have traced a bachelor in a frustrating career search. During that celibate life, nothing appealed to me more than pretty women.
Section Four: Professional Education
I betcha' I'll show 'em I'm not a quitter. Just let me get that slip of paper.
The shame of another reversal of a bi-vocational role in California missions was more of the pattern of missing the mark. As usual, my parents refrained from criticism of my aborted job plans. They had trusted my judgment, probably because I'd had professional schooling and had proven some self reliance. They bore the shame of my dismissal from the Civil Service job with the post office, as well as my California fiasco. Some of the shame involved the church members who had to explain Don's joblessness.
Periodically, especially after disappointment in career searches, I engaged in reflection. I would have to record in a diary, Where have I missed it again? I had thought that by landing the post office job I had begun to break the vicious cycle of rejection. As to the Ashland School of Commerce, I was never convinced that was my field. Though I actually liked accounting and related courses, that was not the academic challenge I aspired to. That was not geared to charitable and social justice issues. Regarding the most recent California wild goose chase, I'm frustrated and disillusioned. But I need to take some kind of secular job to prove myself as ambitious.
I was not one to sponge off kinfolks. Though I had convictions against raising tobacco when more and more it was confirmed to be a health hazard, I helped at home by raising the tobacco crop the coming year (1962). Of course Dad helped in this, largely because farming was his life. But Dad and Mom insisted I take most of the money from the sales.
I responded to an ad in the Louisville Courier-Journal for a tenant on Polohunt Farm in Woodford County near Versailles. I had obtained second-hand furniture for the living alone in the farm house.
My landlord, Colonel John Parker, who had retired from the Army Engineers, took pains to winterize the little house nestled in a lower area in rolling Bluegrass land. The chief tenant farmer was a burly, gangely fellow who suspected I was not suited to such hard physical work. But Col. Parker liked me because I was an Army veteran.
This winter of 1963 turned out a record low in temperature. Some people reported it was 30 below zero. I made out, with only my hands and feet uncomfortable from the cold while I fed livestock from the silo and performed other chores. Col. Parker thawed water troughs for livestock, an extraordinary job.
His father-in-law, Colonel Johnson, lived next door to John Parker, and was occasionally scorned by John for incompetence.
But the Colonel's daughter, John's wife, was the backbone of farm operations and management. I was there so briefly that I failed to learn her name. John was more of a dreamer, but I must give him credit for getting me a part-time job in winter at the University of Kentucky, engineering department. I was merely a handy man. But the best part was a course in English he arranged for me. My stay at UK was so brief that I don't remember her name. She was such a helpful teacher in English composition that to drop that course was almost like losing my right arm. That came about because in reality after the brutally hard work of the farm I could not stay awake at night when I took the class.
Bagging feed and tying with baler twine had been a new skill to learn. Lifting these bags of feed took about all the strength I could muster. But I felt I must not complain, and must never show any sign of weakness. Common-sense signs, however, were plain to my fellow farmer that I was over-exerting myself and too slight in build for this labor.
A similar thing happened at South Elkhorn Baptist Church on Route 60 west of Lexington. I dozed in drowsy spells throughout the service.
That didn't seem to bother the pastor, for he subtly disclosed race-horse country plans for me.
When I had written John M. Carter, president of Campbellsville College, inquiring of the work ship programs there, the South Elkhorn pastor said, "You ought to stick around for a while. We might want to put you on a horse." But he knew my plans for college were more noble and did not try to stop me.
Again, reflecting of what I might write in a diary, I thought, So, they have vain ideas of making a jockey of me because I'm skinny. I guess they think my light weight qualifies me, but I could never ride horses even if I so desired.
Being skinny, with my crotch anatomy, would always be painful on a horse's back regardless of "a fur-lined jockey strap"..
Col. Parker resented me for deserting the farm, and I did feel guilty for using the farm as a stepping stone to a liberal arts college. But at that denominational institution, Marshall Black, business manager, set me up for enrollment at the college, as well as filing employment procedures with Campbellsville Industries at the edge of the campus. The major industries at that time were aluminum church steeples and wooden display cases for Union Underwear company, a major employer in Taylor County. Several student wives were hired there at Union Underwear, sewing Fruit of the Loom garments.
My work-ship while a college student entailed many hours with a lumber plainer and various saws, I breathed a heavy cloud of dust. Along with fellow students, I started there with rough lumber, planed it and cut-to-pattern display-case ends, ready for the finishing department. Sawdust soon littered the floor. The foreman, on anticipated schedule, said, "Clean up the sawdust. Someone may throw down a cigarette." He was the only "someone" around who smoked. He never knew anything about giving us a break, even when we had finished our jobs a little ahead of quitting time. For two school years and two summers, this was my employment. As had been my similar experience at Clear Creek Bible School, my grades suffered during such physical work.
Another hardship, and ensuing lack of ideal diet and health regimen, was living off campus. I did take some meals at the college cafeteria, but I already had most of the essential furniture from the farm for a down-town apartment. After my ordeal of dorm life at Cumberland College, where hoodlums slept of day and caroused, throwing pop bottles down the wooden halls at night, I wanted no more of that.
My roommate at Cumberland had been a snob, an armed-service veteran braggart. He boasted he could conquer most any woman. The dean of women was not bad looking and a spinster. This guy felt he had the charm to court her. I don't know how that turned out, but knowing this dean, "Miss Mac," I expect she said, "No thanks!"
I had probably been placed in a room with the snob because we were both veterans, but this bully thought he could get rid of me from the room. Instead, the dorm supervisor put him out.
Back at Campbellsville, after a battery of aptitude tests with the college guidance counselor, once again the analysis was "You don't show much in common with the ministry. You reveal inclinations and qualifications as a doctor or a lawyer." (This Mrs. Coppock failed to explain her rationale for her statement but I later saw the pattern.)
I was assigned to Secondary Education, specifically in a Social Science Area.
Seeing the pattern of career search that defies expectations and well-meant plans, I believed at last I might resolve some mysteries and obtain visible proof of my abilities.
(Word Count, 1328 )
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