Back in 1951 during basketball practice at Evergreen High I asked my friend Billy Mudge Lee what his plans were after high school.
Mudge said he “planned to go to college on the G.I.Bill.”
It was the best idea I ever heard. I remembered every syllable, and a couple a months after graduation in 1952, I was in the Navy working on my G.I. Bill.
Four years later in 1956 I came back home to decide which college I would attend. I picked Alabama because it had an accredited journalism program. (Auburn has one now.)
It really didn’t matter that Alabama had lost every single football game the year before, or that Auburn was on its way to a national championship.
What mattered was that I was out of the Navy, and I was going to school on the G.I Bill to study journalism.
After my freshman year, I felt confident I could make the grades in college. The one thing that gnawed at my confidence was that sooner or later I was going to have to take geometry, and I knew I could not pass it.
When I finished high school, I was told that I would never be allowed to register for classes in college because I had not passed geometry. At Alabama, each semester when I registered for classes, my advisor told me I should go ahead and take geometry, but I kept delaying the issue.
And finally, when registering for my last semester I had to sign up for geometry. There was no way out.
As part of the procedure with the G.I. Bill we had to check with the teacher each day of class so our attendance would be noted. On the first day, I introduced myself to the instructor.
When he saw that I was a veteran, he asked me which service. When I said Navy, he laughed and said he had been in that outfit, too.
Well, at that point I figured I should tell him the story of me and geometry. So I did, and he said if I would come to class early and stay late so he could explain some of the angles, and maybe I could make it through.
I did come early, and I did stay late. Pretty soon some of the frat brats picked up on what was going on, so they would listen and learn as well.
So, with my instructor’s help I was able to learn enough about geometry to “pass” the course so I could graduate. It was a tremendous favor he did for me. So, if the truth be known, the Navy not only got me the G.I. Bill, it got me my degree as well.
One just has to know all the angles.