In the fall of ’72, no one knew of my personal unkindness to Kathryn, because it hadn’t happened yet. In the fall of ’72, we were still a happy couple on the university campus, up in the mountains at that day and time. We were both doing our level best to chase the Bachelor’s Degree and Teaching Certificate, her better than I. I had not been informed that my application to the degree granting college was rejected yet.
It didn’t matter though.
I knew I was living on borrowed time.
We were music education majors, attending football games out-of-doors, because my major instrument was trumpet. We sat right there on those cold bleachers, like the couple of kids we were. She wore her brown jacket, I wore my marching uniform. I was there to play trumpet. She was there to be with me. Why she put up with weather like that is a mystery to me.
The weather was atrocious at those football games. What can a guy expect out of cold weather in the mountains, anyway? I could hang with it, myself. It just seemed a little stupid to have to sit in those bleachers at that stadium, while anybody else did anything whatever. Why play football, for heaven’s sake? I was from Pittsburgh, PA, and had a rebel spirit. They called that a flower child.
I was hanging out in the mountains of North Carolina in a blizzard.
The idea of survival, when you had to be out of doors, was to keep moving.
It seemed like the weather got way too cold and snowy, awfully early that year. She sat there faithfully though, never once uttering any complaint. I played my instrument when I was called upon to play it. I did my job. As cold as it was, I couldn’t make sense out of doing football games in severe weather. We’d go out on the snowy field and do our marching routine, come hell or winter weather.
I found out, way too late, that what I needed to get was the money from the summer job I had neglected to show up for. I had nothing to buy my food with, early on. So I was starving on campus. I overlooked that eventuality for too long a period of time, in the fall of ’72. I even tried to get a pizza delivery job, but that town was way more complex than what I bargained for.
I failed utterly. It was almost as if I wanted to go broke by the time I was 21. Dad had left us to starve in the summer of ’64, up in Scottdale, PA. I had a lot more confusion going on inside of me, in the Fall if ’72, than I was aware of. I always wondered what it would have been like to run out of money, when I was a little kid.
Dad fueled that fire when he ran off to Florida.
As for staying on the college campus broke, I think Kathryn would have fed me, if I’d have asked her too. I just didn’t want to impose on her, right after I broke up with her. She probably would have fed me, though. We’d been very close in our day. I don’t imagine she would have let me starve. My pride got the best of me. I’ll never know the inner workings of a woman’s mind.
Somewhere, people were still demonstrating against the War in Vietnam. They kept things quiet in North Carolina, in the Deep South. Law Enforcement was not putting up with that sort of nonsense around there. We had a Speak Out on campus once, but they only did it once. The issue was visitation between the men’s and women’s dorms. I got the microphone once, at that gathering. I babbled, too.
You would have thought there was no Vietnam awareness at that gathering.
Eventually, our generation won out over Richard Nixon, and he pulled the troops out of Vietnam in ’75. This was back in ’72, after the Draft Board classified me 4F, unfit for military service. I guess I might have gone, up until the Draft Board decision, I don’t know. In the summer of ’72, Kathryn and I had a wonderful summertime together, after I’d been to the laughing academy.
When I first returned to campus, I had to do some talking with her, but I managed.
I seem to cast a spell on Kathryn, from day one. Soon enough, we were every bit as much of an item as we ever were, now that it was the Fall of ’72. We were doing a lot of romantic things together, like going over to Reggie’s when he was at work. So romantic to be alone together. That was almost as romantic as going to the Falling Water one night, and turning off the lights.
Falling asleep with all that white noise outside was comfortable.
I developed an idea why people like to go to Niagara falls.
In Jan 72, maybe it was Dec ’71, I don’t know when it was, Kathryn had helped the authorities put me into my first psychiatric hospital. I was scared out of my wits after I’d gotten a load of what that psych ward was. By the time I was discharged from the hospital, I understood that I needed to be there. I never blamed Kathryn for anything about that hospitalization.
She tried to help me.
I really don’t understand all the in’s and out’s of what happened there. I eventually learned that I had a bad chemical reaction from something I took on the outside. In those days, there were all sorts of flower children ingesting all sorts of chemicals. I blamed it on mescaline but maybe it was something else. Many of us were having all sorts of reactions to all sorts of things we took. I wasn’t the only one.
That was Feb ’72, I’m talking Oct or Nov when things got tough between Kathryn and I.
One night the young man passed out. Lord knows the chemicals he put in his body. Heaven knows the reactions his body had to all of them. It would be a coroner’s nightmare. Well, maybe the Good Lord didn’t have much to do with it. The young man passed out and away that night. There was no one to mark the time. His girl dutifully waited for him to show her to the football game.
The blizzard fell and the band played, but none of it was for the trumpet major.