From the Main Gate at NAS Jacksonville to Moussorgsky’s “Gates of Kiev”
Just before I graduated from Andrew Jackson High School in 1957, I had been offered an appointment to Annapolis by Congressman Charles E. Bennett, but a physical was required. When the Navy Corpsman told me that Annapolis required at least 20/100 correctable to 20/20, and that my eye sight was 20/200 correctable to 20/20—that I was not going to “boat school,” I was in shock. Not for me was there to be a snappy Middie uniform and a free college education.
To avoid going right onto Navy active duty for two years as an Airman Recruit after graduation from high school, I “signed up” and took advantage of an “Accelerated Training Program” at NAS Jacksonville which enabled me to advance from E-1 to E-3—before I was 18. From that point, I would have to work my way through college, and maintain at least a C average and maintain a 90% Naval Reserve drill attendance.
The most cost-effective college option for me was Jacksonville University. It would turn out to be a transformational experience.
It has been almost 60 years since I first drove my worn out 1949 Nash onto the emerging campus of the newly minted Jacksonville University in September, 1957.
From 1934 until 1957 it had been Jacksonville Junior College, a 2-year degree granting college with a building on Riverside Avenue. My beloved uncle, Archie Connors had graduated from JJC in 1949, after serving as President of the Student Council and as member of the state champion track team.
JU’s Memorable Faculty
I have attended 11 colleges or universities during my life and career. What really surprised me when I thought back over those memories was the fact that other than the most recent experiences, I could remember hardy any of my college professors or instructors. My JU professors, on the other hand, I not only remembered, but I vividly recalled my times with them and appreciated all the more how they had changed our lives.
I remember Prof. Wilma Horton, who taught English and journalism. From her I caught the passion she radiated about our language, its beauty and the vital role its mastery would play in our futures. What can you do but marvel at the hopeful patience of an English Professor who gives a B grade to an essay(?) entitled “Biology: Bangles, Spangles and Gore.” [You can’t make this stuff up, as as the saying goes.]
Prof. Joseph Hauber taught German and social science with an intensity that I have rarely seen in any instructor. In any given class his emotional range could swing from a generous “sehr gut,” to an explosive “Gott im Himmel.”
Yet, even when his reaction was imploring a distant deity for patience in the face of such dum kaffen as had been assigned to his class, we knew that his reactions were for more or less theatrical purposes and a sign that he truly cared deeply about our progress.
Dr. Jim Fleek was my chemistry professor. I can still see him bustling about his brand-new laboratory classroom in the Nelms Science Building. Somehow, against all odds, he was able to instill in us an appreciation, if not a love for (which in my case was unrequited) such phenomena as atomic weights, oxidation, reduction, compounds, and precipitants.
Dr. Sidney Lefkowitz, among other subjects, taught a class in comparative religions. It was from this gentle and wise man that I gained an abiding appreciation and respect for religions and cultures other than the ones in which I had been raised.
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