Sunday, August 24, 2014

Back to School

This was the week it happened in my town. The easy morning commutes to the office or the radio station are no more. Enjoyable rides home in the evening have given way to clogged streets, blaring horns and drivers with bad tempers. Yup! School is back in session. The worst for me is a three block stretch of Devine Street between St. Joseph’s Church and Dreher High School. I used to be able to sail through that area having to stop at only one traffic light if at all. Now, I get caught at every light and sometimes it takes two cycles to get through it.

Down on Campus at the University of South Carolina, the easy trip to the parking garage at the Russell House where WUSC – FM is located has become a nightmare of dodging students; some jaywalking and others frantically driving around looking for parking spaces. It is worse this year because the university has eliminated 200 free faculty spaces and two large lots of student parking at the same time as welcoming back the largest student body on record. So now, I worry about finding a space in the garage in time for me to walk up the hill and across the patio to do my show.

At this time of year, I give up on having lunch at some of the nice little college themed restaurants near campus because of the traffic. It seems to me that 30% of the traffic is men over 50 checking out the co-eds as they walk to class wearing their summer uniform of short shorts and tank tops. So unless I need to be on campus for something related to the station, I stay well clear of the traffic jam. In a few weeks, the students that I pass on the way will know me as that “Old School DJ” dragging his computer on rollers to and from the station, and not one of those old guys cruising the campus. Already, I get greetings from students and staff as I walk the short path up the hill and across the patio. It is amazing to me that the college age men and women love the oldies so.

To be honest when I was in high school back to school time was one of my favorite times of the year. The isolation of summer was over. The circle of friends that I saw several times per week grew from the handful of summertime to include those in my class that lived outside my immediate neighborhood. It was time to share the tales of the summer and check out the new kids in school. There was always the freshman class to take under our wings and welcome them into life in the big time; High School! For me, it was time to break in my running spikes for another year on the cross country team and limber my lips for that trumpet that I have been mostly ignoring all summer long.

It wasn’t until the summer between my junior and senior year that some teacher decided to fill our summer with work to do for school. That year he assigned 5 books that he was planning to use as a test when we came back. His plan was to have the test on the second Friday after we returned to school. The idea was that students that were new to his class would have that time to read and catch up. Well, I procrastinated all that summer and by time the first day of school arrived, I had read only two of the five books. I was really worried that I would be slammed trying to read the other three. Much to my surprise and joy, our class got divided into three sections instead of two and I no longer had that particular teacher. Good thing too, because Mr. Hoffecker, our band director, asked me if I would be the Drum Major for the band; this was going to be the first time our fledgling band marched onto the football field instead of sitting in the stands as a pep band at games. Doing that, meant that I would have to give up my senior year on the cross country and track teams. It did not take me long to decide that being the first drum major in the history of my school was way to cool to pass up.

Over the years, I have viewed this time of year with bittersweet memories; great times, but times forever in my past. However, since I am semi retired and answered the call of my first radio station to come back and “Anchor” Monday mornings with oldies, my point of view has changed a little. I enjoy the return of the Student DJs, catch up on their summers and check out the newbies and help them get started with their own broadcast careers. It is almost like the first day of school. ALMOST, I don’t have to start cracking down studying and taking tests. Yes – life is sweeter this time around. Oh MY!

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