The Orphan’s Mother, even before The Orphan graduated from Memphis Central High School, had gone to the school, gotten his transcripts and sent them to colleges everywhere. They all wanted The Orphan -- even The Massachusetts Institute of
The Mother narrowed the college choices down to two -- The Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) in Atlanta, Georgia, and The University of Tennessee (UT) at Knoxville, Tennessee. Both of these schools offered Co-operative Engineering Programs between the University and many Companies where
“quarters” working at a paid Engineering job alternated with “quarters” working in Engineering classes as a slave -- if the student qualified by having a sufficiently high grade point average.
Georgia Tech was “out-of-state” and cost some $700.00 per quarter. The Mother wanted the best for her favorite child and sought many ways to afford Georgia Tech -- even going so far as contacting and soliciting aid from The Orphan’s dentist, Dr. Eliazer, who had friends at Georgia Tech.
This Dentist helped by arranging for The Orphan to be provided with a job near Georgia Tech, which included a rent-free room. The job was to answer emergency calls for an ambulance company during the night hours.
Alas, The Orphan and all of his family could not find a way to amass the enormous Georgia Tech tuition plus costs for even the first quarter, so The Orphan had to apologize to the dentist and tell Georgia Tech that they were too expensive.
The good news about UT was that UT was “in-state” and cost Tennessee residents “only” $52.00 per quarter. The bad news was that the UT Engineering School was in Knoxville, Tennessee -- a fearsome distance of 450 miles away -- and it cost $12.00 for a train ticket to get there.
The cost to stay in a room, even in a private home, was $60.00 a quarter. Eating and “living” costs would be at least $20.00 a week for each of the twelve weeks. This was a total of $352.00 or more just for the first quarter – not including the train fare of $12.00 and the costs of any other fees or
The “known” amount totaled nearly $400.00, an amount that was one-third the current cost of a brand new Ford, Chevrolet or Plymouth automobile.
So there was not even enough money for UT, as all of The Daddy’s salary was required to house, feed and clothe The Daddy, The Mother and the four children. The Frazier family lived week-to-week and had no savings – and owed money for car payments and a small black and white television.
The Forbidding Giant, quaking in his shoes, because he knew the fierce determination of The Mother, said,
“…Well, Mavis (one of the names of The Mother), he will just have to wait a year while working and saving…”
Fierce is an inadequate description of what followed. As The Mother screwed her face into a knot and stamped both of her feet at the same time, she spewed,
“…NO he will NOT stay away from school a year…I know what will happen…he will NEVER go…he is going to go to college NOW and be an Engineer…I will get a job…I will do without food or clothes…HE IS GOING…”
The Orphan saved The Forbidding Giant’s life when The Orphan said,
“…I just remembered that I have the paper route bond and I will have to quit that job to go to college and, when I quit, I will get the bond back…I wonder how much money is in there now…”
As mentioned in Chapter Eight of The Early Adventures, The Orphan had, by omission, continued to store money in the bond because he had forgotten to cancel his contributions when the required bond amount was reached. The bond totaled
$360.00. This amount, with help from The Mother and The Daddy in “emergencies,” was deemed sufficient for one quarter of school.
(It is well that neither The Daddy nor The Orphan was, at that time, aware of how many “emergencies” would arise.)
When the amount was known and naively assumed to be sufficient, The Forbidding Giant shuddered and, with great relief, said,
“…Well, we would have found a way…”
The Mother knew a way would have been found but hugged The Daddy and said,
“…My life is complete. My favorite is going to college and I know that he will graduate and show that Carl Luna brother of yours that he will not come crying home after failing…”
So The Orphan selected The University of Tennessee at Knoxville, where he would seek a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering, and began a great adventure that would again reshape the life of The Little Orphan Granny.
Finally, as the fall of 1952 approached, in preparation to be deported into exile to UT, The Orphan packed all of his things into a leather-strapped trunk with metal corners. The Mother and The Daddy then took The Orphan and his trunk to the train station and purchased a one-way ticket (“one-way” had such
an ominous sound) to Knoxville, Tennessee.
The Mother was silently crying so hard that the tears ran down her cheeks in two continuous streams. She could not speak but could only clutch the hands of her son, The Orphan.
Then the also-wet-eyed Daddy grabbed The Orphan in a bear hug, kissed him on the lips and said,
“…Son, do real good. Bye now and we love you…”
The Orphan was too startled to cry.
As the train clanked and groaned out of the station, the last sight The Orphan saw was The Daddy with his left arm around the crying Mother while using his right hand to blow his big nose on a red handkerchief.
This train stopped at every pig-whistle place between Memphis and Knoxville – it took a lifetime to get to Knoxville.
The Orphan de-trained in mid-town Knoxville, dragging his large, heavy trunk, and continually asked the surly, taciturn hillbillies for directions to UT. The University of Tennessee at Knoxville is familiarly called “The Hill” – for a very good reason -- for UT was on a small mountain were there was
only “up,” “down,” “around to the left” or “around to the right.”
The Orphan dragged that trunk the mile and a half from the train station down Cumberland Avenue toward the admissions office at The University. There were many people who looked askance at an 18-year-old lad gamely dragging a large trunk along the sidewalk – but there were no offers of help. The Orphan
was strong. The Orphan was focused. The Orphan dragged that damned trunk to the admissions office.
After finally finding the admission office in Ayres Hall up The Hill from Cumberland Avenue and paying them $52.00 in advance for one quarter, The Orphan was told there was no room in the dormitory. However, he was told that private homes rented rooms to students, and was given an address.
The address was on the mountain adjacent to The Hill. So The Orphan then dragged that damned trunk down the mountain holding the University and up the mountain housing the new temporary home of The Orphan. After paying $20.00 in advance for the first month to the “land-lady” and being told it was
unacceptable to be loud or to drop shoes on the floor, The Orphan fell abed and slept the clock around.
The next day The Orphan met his two roommates – one a “pre-med” and the other a business major. They seldom saw each other, as life was continuous classes and studies.
In addition to books, there were mandatory requirements to have a K&E Log-Log Deci-trig 12” Slide Rule – and even a used one cost $10.00 -- and a K&E Engineering Drafting Set – and a
used one cost $12.00. (The Orphan now needed a pocket protector as well.)
The good news was that there were many used slide rules and drawing sets available because many students could not abide the horrors of engineering classes and moved to business classes – a much more wussy course.
To amass more funds, The Orphan had worked hard during the summer between graduation from Memphis Central High School and entering UT– a very wise move as there were many more “emergencies” in the first quarter at UT than a slide rule and a mechanical drawing set – pencils, pens, drawing class materials
such as straight-edges, triangles, scales (read triangular ruler), notebooks, paper, fare to return home and such things.
The University of Tennessee Engineering School was not concerned with nurturing The Orphan as the two Miss Mauzys’ classes at Central High were. At UT Engineering it was The Orphan’s task to nurture himself. Veterans, farmers and city boys had swelled the population of UT to bursting and UT was anxious to
weed out those who were not there to achieve.
UT was concerned only with disseminating copious amounts of data and knowledge that they felt that engineers must have (and that to succeed to that lofty title, the embryonic engineers had to prove repeatedly that they had that knowledge in its entirety). The teaching and learning process was continuous,
repetitious and heartless, and The Orphan had more than a full course load, with 21-1/3 credit hours his first quarter.
UT was tough in all aspects – even Physical Fitness class -- where 12 chin-ups, 100 sit-ups and being able to run laps in really fast times were required to earn 1/3 of a credit hour per quarter. Here the dancing, grocery store lifting, hay bale lifting and bicycle delivery hours of the early
Orphan were a boon!
There were great teachers, good teachers, mediocre teachers, poor teachers, caring teachers, indolent teachers and, occasionally, superb teachers - but - only superb knowledge was served up. The Orphan and The Real Granville were teamed as never before. There was a veritable glut of data - and a frantic
fear by the duo that some bit would not be learned.
As stated earlier, The Orphan had no funds to continue school for a second quarter. He needed to qualify for the Co-operative Engineering Program right away. Imagine The Orphan’s horror when he learned that the first two quarters must be continuously and successfully completed in classes before
“qualifying” for the program.
Since The Orphan had funds for only one quarter and no other resources, The Orphan was forced to bring out The Real Granville and, as a duo, they met with the Assistant Dean of Engineering, Tough Thomas -- who was also the Director of The Co-operative Engineering Program. The duo had to take a chance so
they told Tough Thomas all of the truth and said that they were capable and were determined to succeed and had to get on the Co-op program starting the second quarter.
Tough Thomas listened silently and then stayed quiet for a long period after The Orphan finished his plea while staring unblinking into The Orphan’s steady eyes (and, so help me, also saw The Real Granville – who was frozen in terror). Tough Thomas then said,
“…Oh, I see. OK, if you two will stick together (he did see us both) and keep your promise to me that you two will do what you said you would, at the start of the second quarter I will place you in the engineering department at
Pidgeon-Thomas Iron Works near your home in Memphis so you will not have to pay rent and can save all your pay for school quarters. If you do not do what you said you would, as sure as my name is Wiley Thomas, I will have you killed slowly and have all of your family as well as all of their friends killed slowly...”
The Orphan and The Real Granville kept their promise and qualified as a “Co-operative Engineering Student” by the end of the first quarter -- a precedent that has not been repeated at UT.
So The Orphan carried a load of 21-1/3 credit hours per quarter for his freshman and sophomore years and 18 hours per quarter for his junior and senior years, each class quarter alternating with a work quarter until his senior year. The work quarters only had a tuition cost of $3.00 and gave no credits
Because the worker-student was enrolled in UT all four quarters of each year and because the senior year was spent full-time in classes at school, this work-education process only added one year to the normal required four-years – so it took five years to graduate. Most important of all, The Orphan could
also eat when at UT – if he saved his salary.
How it worked was that two Co-op students formed a team. While one was at work, the other was at school -- therefore, both the Companies and UT each had a full-time worker-student -- but with the same face only every other quarter.
Tough Thomas was The Little Orphan Granny and The Real Granville’s kind of person, and they were instantly in rapport. Dean Tough Thomas and The Team became close friends but only admitted it after The Orphan graduated.
Tough Thomas then said,
“…You will, of course, move to my home where the rent will be adjusted to your means (which meant that The Orphan could paint Tough Thomas’s house whenever he could not pay the rent of $60.00 per quarter – Tough Thomas’s house was well painted) so I can
observe this strange synergism between the clown Orphan and the hidden Real Granville …”
Tough Thomas’s house was in the valley on Cumberland Avenue down The Hill from Ayres Hall and was very conveniently situated to the campus. The Orphan lost none of his superb leg strength while at UT because of the “…up, down, around to the left and around to the right…”
Thus began the work and school part of the “advanced education” of The Little Orphan Granny and The Real Granville.