My first trip to the Virginia Tech campus, a distance of about 20 miles as the crow flies, was more than 55 years ago. Although I was living where I live now in West Virginia the large mountains made the trip extend to 70 miles.
Tech had about 4000 students in those days. About 50 Home Economics majors were the only coeds on campus. All the men were military cadets.
Since Monday of this week I have had dozens of Virginia Tech memories come to mind because of the 32 people who were gunned down on campus by a lone gunman determined to take a lot of innocent lives before killing himself. Here are some my images of Virginia Tech. They include by first visit at elementary school age, my week-long visit on campus as a teen and the three years I spent there as a graduate student.
The men at Virginia Tech played basketball in Memorial Gymnasium. I doubt it would hold 3000 people.
Poultry and dairy barns were in the place where the football field is now.
When I was about 17, a girl from Greenbrier County and I were invited to the Tech campus to represent the state of West Virginia at Virginia’s state 4-H camp. Bedford county 4-H members were my host for the week.
As a student and Mountaineer fan at West Virginia University I made a trip to Virginia Tech to watch Tech vs WVU play basketball. WVU was head and shoulders better than Tech, but we(WVU) lost anyway. Two things besides the loss stood out. It was the very first game played in Cassell Coliseum. (We sat on concrete because the seats were not in yet.) And I remember the deafening crowd. The cadets made so much noise the players couldn’t hear the whistle blow. Humiliation for sure.
Less than 10 years later I would enroll at Virginia Tech to work toward the Ph.D. degree. That was the late 1960’s. I was too old to be part of the radical campus activity in those days. I basically considered the undergraduates a bit foolish, to say the least.
Students seemed to protest about everything. They complained until the campus administration decided it was okay for coeds to have visitors in their rooms, but they had to leave the door open at least one foot. One thing lead to another until more than 100 students had a “sit-in” in a campus building to protest the one-foot rule. The students were determined, but the school officials had more power. At 7:00 a.m. one day several buses and 200 highway patrol officers in 100 cars rolled into campus and hauled about 110 people to jail. Then they were given 48 hours to pack their bags and go home for a semester.
While I whole-heartedly agreed with the administration, I was saddened that one undergraduate with the long hair and all who worked for me in my lab was one who got sent home. He was a nice guy following the wrong crowd. The highway patrol stayed around for about 3-4 weeks until the spring semester was over. They place was really crawling with patrol cars since there were 100 of them.
One night I was in the student center at some type meeting. We had a bomb threat, evacuated the building, and all turned out well.
As the serious grad student I was, I blocked out a lot of stuff. One night while engrossed in study in the library I was aware the lights were flickering. However I was a little too late learning that the light flicker was a signal to get out of the library because they were about to close. I thought of two embarrassing options to get out of the locked library. I could call campus security and have them let me out. Too embarrassing. Or, I could just bolt out a fire escape door and set off fire alarms. Too embarrassing. I did the only thing a thinking grad student would do. I removed a security window in the basement stack area and slipped out behind some shrubs. I returned to the stacks the next day and put the window back.
I took my four-year old son, Scott to a basketball game. He was all eyes during the warm up. When the buzzer sounded to start the game he say, “Dad, I’m ready to go home.”
Attending the ball game in Cassell was not the only first I experienced at Virginia Tech. I had the first Ph.D. dissertation that was typed on a word processor. It was typed by a campus secretary and on the only word processor on campus at that time. The word processor cost about $4500 if my memory serves me correctly.
Since I spent 20 years on college campuses, I have a soft spot in my heart for those young adults studying to become productive citizens. This fact has compounded the sadness I feel for family and friends of the shooting victims. However, as bad as the shootings were, it is not as bad as living a life and never accepting Jesus Christ. Those who don’t face a Hell that is eternal. Pray for those who do not know Him.