Understanding Gomer

Mother always said that I was going to attend College. I never doubted her but I could not conceive of how this would happen. A couple of my friends had college plans but most of the students in my class, even the smartest, were not planning for college. At that time finishing high school was considered by most families the completion of one’s formal education.

My mother and daddy didn’t have the opportunity to attend much less complete high school. Both were very smart and self educated but had no idea what was needed in going to college and there were no school counselors back then to help.

In my senior year my basketball couch had recently graduated from North Georgia College. My principal had a son attending that school and planned to send his daughter. They convinced me and my parents that this was the right college for me.

Of course North Georgia College is a military school. I had no idea what this meant. I realized that students wore uniforms but that was the extent of my understanding of what a military school was like.

North Georgia College is very different today than it was then. At that time it was like being in the army with a very challenging academic course of study. At 6:00 each morning we were awakened by bugle call. We had room inspection at 6:30 followed by platoon formation outside in front of our dormitory for personal inspection. We had company formation for breakfast and were due in class by 9:00.

In the evening after dinner we were required to be in our room by 7:00 and to remain in quarters for the rest of the evening except for a short break at 9:00. Another bugle call signaled bedtime at 11:00 and all lights were to be turned out. I had not expected this kind of schedule but on the other hand I really had no expectation.

Freshmen were required to be at school a week early for orientation. I had tried many times that week to buy my books at the small college bookstore but lines had been so long I had always given up.

Now it was the first day of classes and I had just finished my third class. I was a little slow leaving the classroom and to my surprise there were no lines at the bookstore. I felt I should take advantage and get my books since I’d need them for homework. As I approached the bookstore door there was a custodian standing there. In a surprised voice, he said, “Son, why aren’t you at drill?”

I said, ”Drill? Do they do that up here?”

I was not going to give up a chance to get my books and I went ahead and purchased them and went by my dormitory to leave them.

Walking outside I could see all of the cadets on the drill field. Some were standing in little groups while others were marching in all directions. On the steps to the drill field I passed a couple of cadets wearing long shiny sabers . I had not been taught about saluting so I just said “hello” and walked on down to the drill field. What was I to do now? I looked over the field and noticed a small group of men standing together. One of them had a billed cap and looked important. I felt this was the place to find directions.

I realized that I was out of place and late, so I put on a happy face and walked up to the group. “Where do you want me to go?” I asked, smiling from ear to ear. The man with the billed cap turned and looked at me with an expression of both surprise and anger.

“Oh my goodness!” I thought. Then he began laughing. Actually he bent over laughing and so did the other men in the group. I later found that he was head of the military department with his staff.

Someone called for a volunteer to become a member of one of the groups and I grabbed the opportunity to get away. I later found that I had joined “D” Company which was not very popular and needed volunteers to fill it. I stayed in this company for the rest of my time at North Georgia College and believe it or not I became its executive office my senior year.