Times Have Changed

by John C. Westervelt

My son Paul was transferred from Tulsa to Houston six years ago. My grandson Brett is now a senior at the University of Texas. Amy, my granddaughter, is a freshman at Texas A&M.

On a Saturday in mid-August, Paul rented a pickup truck and drove with Sandy, his wife, to Austin to help Brett move from an apartment to a five-bedroom, 1920 vintage house near the campus. The four boys who had shared the two-bedroom apartment asked a fifth friend to live with them in the house. Two of the boys have pickup trucks. During the afternoon and early evening, the three trucks ferried furniture and belongings from the apartment to the house.

A week later on a Sunday afternoon, Paul, Sandy, and Amy filled two vehicles for the trip from Katy to College Station. At the same time, Amy’s roommate, Tracy, and her folks were filling their two vehicles. Amy and Tracy were moving into a third floor room in a dorm without elevators. Fortunately, Seth, Tracy’s brother-in-law, and Brett showed up to carry carpet and other heavy things up three flights of stairs.

Paul called me Sunday evening on the drive back to Katy. He said, "For boys, you get the belongings in the room and you are through. For girls, you put up bulletin boards, hook up the TV, computer, and printer, and install shelves in the bathroom while the women stay busy arranging."

Paul continued, "There is a bathroom with two sinks between two rooms with two girls in a room. Nearby is a parking garage. Centered among four dorms is a cafeteria."

Times have changed. I was seventeen years old in June of 1945. World War II was still raging on the islands leading toward Japan. My mother, a widow and schoolteacher, had recently given up her car to make ends meet.

I left for college on a street car, arrived at the downtown station in Oklahoma City, walked across several sets of tracks to the Norman interurban, and got off the interurban on Main street in Norman. With my suitcase in hand, I walked a mile to the Franklin House, which was two doors north of the present-day home of OU President David Boren, across the street from the north oval.

My physics and analytic geometry classes were a gentle walk to the present-day administration building at the south end of the north oval. My meals were served on the first floor of the Franklin House. The rooms were on the second floor. The forty freshman boys shared two open area showers with a dozen showerheads in each area. We had a sink in the room shared by two boys. Having grown up with one lavatory for five people and no shower (just a bathtub), I thought I had arrived in heaven.

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