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161128 November 28, 2016


Picking a University
Tommy Towery
LHS '64

Sat Nov 30, 1963

        Got a ride home from Memphis with Dr. David Rowe.  Listened to ball games on the way.  Alabama lost to Auburn 10-8.  Wait till next year.  Roll Tide!

    Having spent the weekend watching ball games on TV, I was reminded of the entry above which I made in my journal about listening to The Iron Bowl back when I was a senior at Lee High School. In reflecting on the entry, I transitioned into thinking about what I wrote about the results of the game, which led me to trying to remember why I picked Alabama as my team of choice over Auburn.

    First of all, I had no family ties to either university, since I was the first in my family to ever go to college. That made me decide there must be some other reason and I narrowed it down to something which also happened to me during my days at Lee. I remember that my first visit to any college campus was made indeed to the University of Alabama, thanks to my work on Lee’s Traveller and our trip to the Alabama High School Press Association (AHSPA) during my junior year in high school. A group of the newspaper staff, chaperoned by our faculty advisor, Mrs. Parks, made the trip, and I spent my first night in a college dormitory room, with Robert Byrd as my roommate. We did not do much except attend the seminars put on by the department of journalism – and I cannot remember any individual from that university group or much about the seminars they presented - save one.

    One seminar targeted the use of gossip in high school papers and how it was in bad taste to include it. The major impact of the seminar was that as a result of the session, we did not stop having a gossip page, but did start having a half sheet insert which we included inside the papers sold to the students, but somehow forgot to include in the copy we subsequently submitted to the AHSPA for critique and judging in the yearly high school newspaper competition. As a result, we earned a very high rating in later years.

    In my senior year I once again attended the workshop, only that year we took a lot more “fun” people and we were older and more interested in the social aspect than the business meetings. I roomed with Bob Walker that year, and the group stayed in a small travel court motel instead of the dorm rooms. I have written many times about that trip. The ultimate result of the workshops was also a desire to attend Alabama and major in journalism after I graduated from Lee. Perhaps had the ASPCA workshop been held at Auburn, then my future plans and school loyalty would have led me in a different direction.

    The cost of college was not considered in my fist college plans. Because my father was a disabled veteran, the state of Alabama would foot the bill for tuition and books scholarship for any state institution, and so my plans were set. Beneath my photo in the first volume of Lee’s Silver Sabre yearbook, I listed the University of Alabama as my planned post high school educational plans. I never considered grades or college admission academic testing – I would go to Alabama and get a degree in journalism.

    Then reality set in. My mother remarried and moved to Memphis the summer before my senior year, and I stayed in Huntsville so I could graduate with the friends I had been with since the ninth grade or longer.

    As graduation grew nearer and looked more positive, I once again looked at the options available to me. I was shocked to see how much it would cost for room and board at Alabama. I did a search on the internet and found the following extract from the 1964-65 University of Alabama bulletin. 


    I had no college fund and not a cent in savings, and no job. I had no marketable skills and had no idea how I would ever be able to come up with $632.70 for tuition, dorm fees, and meal charges before school started.     

    At the time, I was unaware of other scholarships and I honestly had no idea that student loans were available. I really did not know, since I had no one I knew who had attended or graduated from college except for my teachers at Lee and somehow they never told me about the possibility of getting financial assistance for my further education.

    Even though I graduated from a high school in Alabama, with my mother and new step-father living in Memphis I was eligible to attend Memphis State University as a Tennessee resident and avoid having to pay out of state tuition. That meant I could live at home with my parents and only have to pay tuition and books. At the time, tuition was a whopping $84.50 a semester. After only a little though I knew my only financially feasible option was to apply for and enroll at Memphis State. 

    Over the summer of 1964 I worked at a YMCA camp out of Memphis and earned less than $200 for the summer (I had free room and board) but it was enough to pay my tuition and buy my books and pay my lab fees. I got a job at a YMCA in the fall and could eat as well, and even have a little money left over for gas and dating. 

    I finished my journalism degree in four years, earned a commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Air Force and upon graduation went into the Air Force where I would have a 20-year career.

    My higher education did not end there. My last two universities and degrees were selected because they were handy. While stationed in Texas I earned my Master’s degree from Texas Christian University because they had a program on base and I could use my military tuition assistance to pay for 90% of it. Later, when stationed in the United Kingdom I earned a bachelor’s of science degree in Information Systems Management from the University of Maryland – because they had a program on base and I could use my VA benefits to pay for it.

    Still missing the degree from Alabama I always wanted, I applied and was accepted for an online graduate degree in 2006, but could never work out the logistics of obtaining the degree since it was a new degree and neither the online school or the journalism department could come up with the sequence of courses I needed to take in order to obtain the degree. Still, I got the bragging rights of being accepted at Alabama.

    I know many of you elected not to go to college after high school, instead pursuing other paths in life. What I would like to know from those of you who did go, is why you selected the school you did pick and any factors which affected your choice. 

        Memphis, TN - Hope all of you had a great Thanksgiving holiday and did not eat too much, as I did. We did not have any family in town, so Sue and I went out to the Navy Base and had their buffet. It was very good, and left us with no dishes to have to clean up. I did make a pecan pie for dessert though. 

Sugar Pie Honey Bunch

Mike Crowl
LHS '65

      Well it was another feast of feast as usual for thanksgiving.The food was abundant and the pies, cakes and other sweets were staring at me. I did not let myself down. I managed to eat myself into oblivious.

      Reminded me of 1965 when the song with the words "sugar pie honey came out .{ I can't help myself.}"  Here's hoping y'all had a great thanksgiving and finds you in good health. I have attached the video song for those who might want step back to 1965.

My brother Don (back), my mother, and me and our TV on East Clinton Street.

The Vintage Television
Tommy Towery
LHS '64

1961 Part 2



From Our Mailbox 


Subject:    Thanksgiving

Chip Smoak

LHS '66

I hope you had a great Happy Thanksgiving.  And now we are in the mad rush to prepare for Christmas. Some already have their Christmas lights up to bring a little enjoyment to the part of the world near them.


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