Digital Tavern - Spring Break 1974

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My sophomore year in college, I roomed with Matt. Matt was an army brat, and had a ROTC scholarship that he was already convinced that he wished to default on. Apparently at the time, if you flunked out by the end of your sophomore year, you had no obligation to the Army and would not have to enlist. So I had a roommate who was bound and determined to spend the entire year flunking out, and seducing as many women as possible. Meanwhile, I had a workload of organic chemistry, and differential equations, and classical physics, and other light fare that I had to concentrate on. I've already written a post describing our experience with streaking in the spring of 1974.


For spring break of that year, we went down to the Rio Grande valley, where my roommate's father, a retired colonel, had settled down to live. We were to go down with my roommate's freshman roommate John, and the sister of the guy who lived in the room across from us in the dorm. Sue was going down to meet her snowbird grandparents, and travel back up with them. Our driver John had flunked out after his freshman year, and his pride and joy was the 1962 Chevy Impala that he had outfitted with oversized tires, and had installed these humongous air shocks to enable the car's frame to clear the huge tires. We started out, intending to drive all night, and made it a few hundred miles until somewhere in Kansas, the air shocks blew. We slowed to a stop and pulled over to the side of the road. Fortunately, John had stored his old tires in the trunk (those old cars had immense room in the trunks), so we swapped out the tires, and continued on our way, without shocks. We found ourselves in Dallas early in the morning, and ate at a southern cafeteria in downtown. Upon leaving downtown, all of a sudden I got a chill and the hair on my arm stood up as I realized that we were driving through Dealey plaza, just about where Kennedy had been shot.


We made it through much of Texas until we got to Waco, and there on I-35 in the middle of town, one of the tires blew. John and Matt went out to try to get assistance, and it took hours before they came back and we got a tire to replace the blown one. We found something to eat, then my roommate said that he knew a girl at Baylor University, and we should go there. We pulled into a parking lot, and Matt took off to find his friend. Hours passed, and we saw no sign of Matt, and eventually it grew dark. There we were, two men and a girl, inside of a car in a parking lot of one of the most culturally conservative colleges in the nation. What could go wrong?


Well, actually, nothing did that night. We eventually fell asleep inside of the car, and campus security never did bother us. Matt finally came back in the morning after having spent the night with the girl he knew (he was amazing in his ability to talk the shorts off of women). We finally made it down past the King Ranch and through the scrub country, until we encountered the irrigated agricultural land of the Rio Grande Valley. We delivered Sue to her grandparents, none the worse for wear, and made it to Matt's house. Ah! The joy of picking a Ruby Red grapefruit off of the tree in the yard for a breakfast! Unfortunately for us, that week was almost a complete washout as far as beach weather. Rain every day save one. We did make it over to Reynosa, where we visited a brothel with a saloon up front, and wooden walkways along the side of the building with doorways opening into small chambers for, well, you know. None of us availed ourselves of the opportunity to catch a venereal disease, though, and we walked back out of "Boy's Town", past the single-cell jail where drunks would have been processed, and eventually back across the bridge to the US. Now this was in a different era, where a US driver's license was all you needed to cross the border, so we were able to just show our license and make it back to the US.


We did have one day where it dawned clear and hot, and we made it over to South Padre Island where I learned that it can be dangerous to body surf as I just about broke my neck getting caught up in a wave and slammed headfirst into the sand. Lucky me, though, no damage other than the blistering sunburn I got from the one day at the beach.


Going back up to Nebraska was uneventful. John managed to get new shocks in Oklahoma City, and put his oversize tires back on. We made it a few hundred miles, until some place in Kansas, where the air shocks blew (these shocks were only supposed to be at about 50 psi, but John needed to inflate them to 90 psi to get the clearance he needed for his tires). So this time, we changed the tires back, in the middle of a cold rain at night. After all, it was still March in the mid-west, and we were lucky it wasn't snowing.


This story didn't have nearly the sex and rock and roll of the other stories I've seen, but it was my life at the time. Some folks had a more interesting time growing up than I did.


This post not originally posted on my blog at https:/ Also, names may have been changed (or not)


Stone-Eater Added Sep 24, 2018 - 4:32pm
Nice to read for a foreigner, though ! I'm always impressed by the sheer size of the US. When I worked in Calgary, we drove up to Banff for a beer - about 70 or more miles. If you ask Swiss people to drive for a beer from Bern to Zurich (same distance, halfway across the country, that is) they think you're nuts LOL
opher goodwin Added Sep 25, 2018 - 4:45am
I find it fascinating to hear the backstories of different people that we know only through posts. It makes them real people. Thanks for sharing and welcome to the Digital Tavern: Pour yourself a drink.
The Burghal Hidage Added Sep 25, 2018 - 7:16am
Yes, thanks for your contribution Clock :)  We can't all have been misbehavin' all that time! Most of my own background is pretty mundane.
There is a comedian I suspect many on here are familiar with, Ron White. He tells a story about being raised in TX by his very devout evangelical grandmother. One day he happened to entice one of the local girls into his grandmother's garage  for a little touchy-feelie. His grandmother caught the two in the act and ran the little girl off. After this young Ron was taken into the house for a good ol' fashion christian scolding. She asked him, "Ronnie, on judgement day when you are before the Lord what will you say for yourself about what just happened today?" Ron replied " Oh, hold on Lord, you're gonna want to pay close attention now. There's a real good part comin' up here."
Many tales of the digital tavern are of this nature, I suspect :) 
Katharine Otto Added Sep 25, 2018 - 12:57pm
Sounds like organic chemistry and physics were more fun.  You were very patient with your roommate.  Did he succeed in flunking out and avoiding the military?
wsucram15 Added Sep 25, 2018 - 5:46pm
Nah..I had some downtime with corn fields, John Deere tractors, bats and mailboxes @ about 45-50mph and tipping cows.  BTW..they are mean critters.
Now Texas, thats my cousins and depends on which one you talk to as to the stories.  Both are bourbon drinkers and wear the stetsons and boots on nights out. Both drive a truck and all that jazz.  One drives a OTR and the other is an Accountant.
Now they will both brawl.. been there right with them.
One likes the music I do and country also, the other just country.
But they are from East Texas...and I have had my travels with them also. They call me "the lightweight", since I would not drink like they do (someone had to drive) AND I didnt drink any whiskey only vodka.
Even A Broken Clock Added Sep 26, 2018 - 11:41am
Stone - thousand mile drives are not uncommon here. For decades I drove to my family home in Lincoln, taking two days for the trip. When I lived in Memphis, it was only 750 miles, and there were times I drove that all in one day. It only seems longer if you convert it to kilometers.
Even A Broken Clock Added Sep 26, 2018 - 11:43am
Opher - this year the summer has hung on so long, my drink will be a frozen daiquiri on the front porch this evening.
Even A Broken Clock Added Sep 26, 2018 - 11:46am
Burghal - thanks for the story.
Jeanne - Texas is a country unto itself. I've got a brother who lives in Ft. Worth, but he hasn't really morphed into a Texan. Don't think he ever will.
Even A Broken Clock Added Sep 26, 2018 - 11:50am
Katharine - oh, the patience was both ways, I'm sure. This roommate was the one where I sometimes woke up in the morning on the bottom bunk, and there were two people in the top bunk, and I heard nothing (I was a sound sleeper). Yes, he did flunk out, and there's another story about traveling down to his place in Texas the next year for spring break, but that's another story.
Speaking of organic chemistry, in lab one day we were working with an early generation MRI looking to analyze electron spins. I remember sticking my arm into the space where the strong magnet was going - the arm with my watch on it. It was about 6 hours later when I was at a basketball game when that watch ground to a halt, killed by the induced magnetism.
Jeff Michka Added Sep 26, 2018 - 5:51pm
Good he was on a bottom bunk, EABC.  Had it been a bunk above you might have learned "trickle down theory" firsthand and have learned right then it's the only trickle down theory that works.  Good tale, mate.
Even A Broken Clock Added Sep 27, 2018 - 9:58am
Jeff - you misread it. I was in the bottom bunk, they were in the top. I was fortunate enough to miss the trickle-down effect. Even then, in bodily fluids as it is in taxation policy, it didn't work.

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