After the Fact: New friends and old

It’s not uncommon to read about a recent graduate owing more on college loans than I paid for my house. Well, to be honest, I know people who buy cars with a sticker price higher than Buckingham Palace. I can’t relate to either of those since both will become obsolete in just a few years. The college grad will be asking, “Do you want fries with that?” and the car owner will be a frequent flier at Caton’s.

Back when the world was new and I paid for my first quarter at Adams State College, dad’s check was made out for less than $500. That included room and board, tuition and fees. A new book was in the neighborhood of $8. In fact, 20 years later, my art history text was $25 and I thought that was exorbitant! But that was “on my nickel.” The first time around, dad had agreed to pay half of everything so long as my grades were “acceptable.” Meaning I’d better not be coming home with anything but an “A.” Saving nearly every penny of my summer salary didn’t fill my share of the bill, but dad allowed that, since I’d tried mightily, he’d ante up the extra. We didn’t get grants or student loans and a “work-study job” meant you got a job in town and hoped you’d have time to study in between classes.

ASU is still one of the better bargains in the market. I suspect most states have at least one college or university that approaches “affordable” while still providing a quality education. Not that either of these are what I could afford, but I clearly remember one of my students who was totally dismayed when he was offered a “full-ride” scholarship to Harvey Mudd College: he’d been hoping for Harvard. Since he was planning a career in engineering, Harvard would be anyone’s second choice, but he didn’t want to spend four years in California. And that was before Nancy Pelosi ran for Congress.

I have a number of exceptionally successful friends who attended smaller schools: though he went on to a “name” law school, US Circuit Court Judge Carlos Lucero is an ASU alumnus. As were Ken Fenter, author of a half-dozen “personal experience” books, Marv Motz (and, I think, most of his family, none of who need an introduction or description) and USMC Lt. Col. Bill Waters who flew Marine One, the president’s helicopter. Not to mention “a teacher in every port” and a coach in every gym, a whole bunch of artists, some more lawyers and even a few engineers.

Through my friend Dimas (I’ve mentioned him a few times: he’s the former high school friend who ended up with the CIA), I’ve “met” graduates from an equally small school, Eastern NM University. John signed up with the Dept. of State after graduation, but ended up with a new wife and a new job, teaching school in the middle east (of the world, not the U.S.); Ray was a co-owner of the construction company that built Michael Jackson’s ranch (he moved back to NM and is too busy planting trees to notice that he’s retired.) Evidently, nobody told Jay that you were expected to leave school once you’d graduated: he stayed at ENMU for advanced degrees and joined the administrative staff. He may go to a graduation every now and again, but only if it’s a grandchild in the cap and gown. Not last and certainly not least, Covey was another of those “No Fear” helicopter pilots who served multiple tours of duty in Vietnam but now thinks he deserves hazard pay for mowing the lawn. There are a few others in this “old friends/new friends” bunch that I’ve left out due to limited space, but, like most of you, they’ll show up here sometime so long as the folks at the Courier will put up with my rambling and so long as you keep reading it!


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