LMU, Venezuela, and Panama

First posted on 7/18/2014.

Lincoln Memorial University (LMU) 1970-1971

After I left Puerto Rico, I spent two months with my paternal grandmother in Alabama, buying clothes and some accessories to brighten my dormitory room. The day my grandmother put me on the plane for LMU proved to be one of the loneliest days of my life. I had never been away from family, so I had never experienced loneliness. When winter set in, the cold weather only served to dampen my spirits even more. With little choice, I threw my energies into my studies and became active in campus groups, knowing the holidays weren’t far off and I would be spending them in sunny, hot South America. In mid-December, I left Harrogate for Knoxville and caught a flight to Maracaibo, Venezuela, via Miami.

Maracaibo, Venezuela

Maracaibo has a semiarid climate and is one of the hottest cities in Venezuela, so it came as no surprise that this was one of the driest and warmest Christmases I had ever experienced. But after enduring several feet of snow and the frigid temperatures of the Cumberland Gap, I wasn’t complaining. I passed the days swimming (in a pool or at the beach, not in the lake) and basking in the hot sun. My family lived close to Lake Maracaibo, which was definitely not suitable for swimming. The water could best be described as brackish from agricultural runoff and oil holidays passed quickly, and in early January I flew back to Knoxville, then caught the bus to LMU.

Lincoln Memorial University (LMU) 1971-1972

As my first year at LMU wound to a close, I decided to stay a second year to complete my prerequisites for college graduation. Then I planned to transfer to another university to enroll in journalism courses. I had my sights set on the University of Oregon, impressed by the curriculum of their School of Journalism. However, I did question one of their requirements: typing twenty-five words a minute with no mistakes on a manual typewriter. What a waste of time. I’ll never use this, I recall thinking. Since LMU offered a typing class, I decided to get this basic under my belt. Between studies and my involvement with the campus newspaper, The Blue and Gray, my second year seemed to fly by. Toward the end of the semester, I applied to the University of Oregon, packed up for summer vacation, and said a sad goodbye to my friends and roommate at LMU.

Panama City, Panama

During 1972, my father had been transferred to Panama City, Panama, so in early June I arrived in the country to spend the summer. The highlight of the trip was a visit to the Panama Canal, watching the massive ships pass through the locks as they made their way from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean. In early August, I received good news: I had been accepted to the University of Oregon School of Journalism. I was now—officially—a Duck.

Next week: LMU Revisited

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