Mike Cope's blog

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

This is a special Sunday at Highland as we welcome all the new students to ACU (as well as a few coming to Hardin-Simmons and McMurry). A whole sea of 18- and 19-year-old students and their families. Blog reader and long-time buddy David Underwood was kind enough to e-mail me a reminder that it was 30 years ago this month that we were freshmen at Harding. I responded that he surely meant 20. Maybe even 15. But not 30. The calendar, however, indicates that he is correct. It was August 1974 that I drove away from Estella Drive in Neosho, MO (where I was born and graduated) to head to Searcy in my little Ford Maverick. Much of the direction of my life flows from that moment. It was just a week or two after Richard Nixon resigned and Gerald Ford became the 38th president of the United States (and just before President Ford turned around a gave him a full pardon). Hank Aaron had just broken Babe Ruth's record, hitting his 715th home run after enduring death threats from people who didn't want a black player to break the hallowed record. Televisions were turned to M.A.S.H., Sanford and Sons, The Jeffersons, and All in the Family -- and that wasn't on late-night reruns! Those shows were actually playing. And you didn't need an "oldies station" to listen to Elton John singing "B-B-B-Benny and the Jets," Grand Funk's "The Loco-Motion," Three Dog Night's "The Show Must Go On," BTO's "Taking Care of Business," Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Sweet Home Alabama," Jimmy Buffett's "Come Monday," Jim Croce's "Time in a Bottle," John Denver's "Annie's Song," Ray Stevens' "The Streak," or the Rolling Stones' "Ain't Too Proud to Beg." I'm sure I listened to my Stones' 8-track on my way there, only to be told quickly by an upperclassman that it was evil and I ought to burn it. It was the year of Godfather II (still one of my all-time favs) and Chinatown--to say nothing of those campy Mel Brooks' films, "Young Frankenstein" and "Blazing Saddles." A few memories of my first moments on Harding's campus: 1. It didn't seem as liberal as I'd been warned by my preacher back home. But what did I know? 2. I loved the preaching--Jim Woodroof, Jimmy Allen, Jerry Jones, and Neale Pryor. They inspired me from the first moment. 3. I really admired Cliff Ganus, Jr., the president of the school. It was quickly obvious that this was a gigantic man with a gigantic heart. 4. There were incredible girls everywhere. It was amazing. The jackpot. Mostly, I guess, I remember all the girls. Hey, I'd just turned 18 a couple weeks before. Not to get preachy or maudlin, but it is amazing how quickly life passes. Thirty years. "All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field. . . . The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever." I'm not a big reunion guy. But I do wonder where all those people who sat around me in chapel in the Administration auditorium are . . . how their lives have turned out . . . how they've offered and received love from spouses, children, and friends . . . how their faith has deepened (or vanished?) through the years.

21 Comments:

  • It must be something in the air that makes everyone reminisce this week. Thanks for the trip down memory lane, I can't tell you the last time I thought of the song "The streak". We did have one guy in our high school that acted it out though! One of the simple pleasures in life is introducing my children to the sheer stupidity of Mel Brook's movies and laughing hysterically with them. Oh, for the good ole'days! (Not really THESE ARE the best of times)

    By Blogger DJG, at 8/11/2004 08:05:00 AM  

  • David and I were discussing this more at length, and the question came up: Which week would you re-live out of your college experience if you could, and why?

    By the way, GREAT list of songs. I know most of the words to a bunch of those, from learning them THIRTY YEARS AGO!! (Don't ever think it's not important what goes into your head)

    Back to the question-- anybody?

    By Blogger don, at 8/11/2004 08:40:00 AM  

  • August 1974? Wow, I was six months old then. THat's great. I would like to correct a typo. Fred Sanford only had one son. (Sanford and Son, not Sanford and SonS)

    As we started back to school this week, I've been flooded with many similar memories. First, I never thought I'd be a teacher. But boy this proves that God does have a sense of humor. True happiness in the opposite of our dreams. Second, as I begin teaching 9th grade Bible this year, I remember the Bible teacher I had in 9th grade at a small Christian high school. I remember how much he impacted my life in that one year. I hope and pray that my experience will be the same for these kids. I'm 30 years old and I still remember some of the things he did and said. I remember his stories, and his heart. And I'm also blessed that I've gotten to tell him those things. That student/teacher relationship is now a friendship and brotherhood in Christ. Wow, what an opportunity and responsibility. Suddenly, I feel overwhelmed. Keep me in your prayers. :)

    Thanks, Mike.

    By Blogger Jon, at 8/11/2004 08:50:00 AM  

  • Mike, 10-4 on the good looking women. I didn't know there were that many pretty girls in the WHOLE world!

    My boys love watching "Blazing Saddles" with me. I am not sure if it would be accepted in today's culture as a brand new film. I would like to see a remake with Jim Carrey involved somehow.

    Did you eat in Patti Cobb or the Heritage? Which chapel did you attend, first or second? Did you ever hang out in the game room of the Student Center? Did you ever use the Library to scope the ladies? How long was it before you sat in the swings? Did you ever sleep more than 5 hours? Did you ever play tennis on those OLD tennis courts where the Benson is at present?
    Did you ever sit out on the wall on the front lawn just outside the Heritage? How long was it before Dennis Munch knew who you were? How hard did you laugh at Mickey and Craig doing the chapel announcements? How long had you been here before you visited Tahkodah? How much pressure did Lot Therrio put on you to join TNT? Where did you sit in the Rhodes to watch a college basketball game in an atmosphere most schools would die for? How quick did you attend a devotional at the Lilly Pool? Did you ever attend a club mixer where someone used a fictious name? Did you ever go to the Intramural softball field behind the Library to just hang out?

    Good times, brother! Thanks for making the nostalgia flow thick. You blessed me 30 years ago, and you still continue to bless me DAILY!

    Love you,
    Dave

    By Blogger David U, at 8/11/2004 08:53:00 AM  

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    By Blogger Q, at 8/11/2004 08:58:00 AM  

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    By Blogger Q, at 8/11/2004 08:58:00 AM  

  • I meant to say "fictitious".......sorry. Hope I got it right even this time!

    DU

    By Blogger David U, at 8/11/2004 08:59:00 AM  

  • Mike, were you in TNT?

    Anyway, I can't wait until I get a job where I can get paid to blog at work! As it is, I have to sneak these guilty pleasures during breaks in the mail!

    Man, why'd you have to bring up music? I had just arrived off the boat from Africa in 1997, to start my freshman year as a Harbin man. The music scene in South Africa consisted of a lot of weird Australian and English music, and good Christians didn't listen to any of it anyway. That first year I lived with a music afficionado who took me under his wing and opened my eyes to the entire spectrum that is American rock and roll.

    But then there are also the anthems of 1997 that always take me back to that boiling August moving into the dorms. I remember cruising Race in Scott Parker's 1997 Mustang GT, windows down, blasting The Verve Pipes "Freshmen." I remember plugging quarters into the jukebox down in the old bowling alley game room to hear Matchbox 20 and Third Eye Blind. I remember the songs that came on the radio while driving out to Heber, or to Bee Rock, or to Tastee Freeze. Even though those songs are circa 1997, they are classics to me, and will never cease to take me back.

    Come on, Q, I know you were there...what fond memories do you have of HU '97? Does it include John Fortner jumping up on his desk at 8:15 one morning, after running all over the room collecting bits of different religions, and stirring them all up in a big pot to explain "syncretism" to us? Oh the glory days...

    By Blogger Greg Kendall-Ball, at 8/11/2004 09:02:00 AM  

  • Yes, in fact, it does, Greg. Fortner composes several of the most ... memorable memories I've got of Harding. (I've got him again this fall, making my 8th class with him, I think. The man is going to forbid me to take any more, I'm sure.)

    I also remember Dr. Hopper and honors music appreciation right after Fortner's class -- I think that was the year in which they challenged each other to a weird off. I think it was a tie.

    I have a lot of good memories of Harding. It wasn't perfect (no place is), but I'm glad I was there.

    By Blogger Q, at 8/11/2004 09:07:00 AM  

  • Wow. That was five years before I was born. ^_~

    Hrm. If you'd just turned 18 a few weeks beforehand at this time of year roughly 30 years ago, it stands to reason that you've recently been beset by a case of birthday. If that's the case, happy belated.

    It's been 7 years since I headed to Harding way back in the fall of '97. Doesn't sound like much, I guess, but it still amazes me. I don't think I thought much beyond college life until I got there. Most of my life had been focused on getting there, wherever "there" turned out to be. (Geek from birth)

    It's funny: I never had questions about my future till I got to it. Now I've got tons. I think I envy your being on the other side of it and already knowing all the stuff that happens in between and still being young enough to use that knowledge.

    (Somehow I managed to post this twice before, got errors when I tried to delete one and lost both. So ... here it is again)

    By Blogger Q, at 8/11/2004 09:08:00 AM  

  • Mike,

    It was 20 years ago that I was beginning my sophmore year at Harding. Lots of memories. This was shortly before the College Church hired a new *young* minister (I won't give his name, but his initials are Mike Cope) who had a great influence on my decision to preach.

    Oh yes, and I lived in your old room (Keller 211A) during my junior year.

    The memories are flooding back.....

    Jeff

    By Blogger Jeff Slater, at 8/11/2004 09:11:00 AM  

  • If middle-aged men can be nostalgic, so can a twentysomething.
    Four years ago this month, my family made the trek from Memphis to Abilene to drop me off at a university I knew very little about. Our last stop before Abilene was the Dairy Queen in Baird, where I nearly ralphed my chili dog at the thought of this new chapter in my life. "Nervous" or "anxious" don't quite describe how I felt at the DQ and the subsequent 15 miles of I-20.
    You had to turn on the Top-40 stations to hear artists like Christina Aguilera, Britney...haha, nevermind.
    Ever since Steve and Abilene collided in 2000, I have always made a concerted effort to ease the transitions of new students each fall. Anyone who has made this transition knows how your stomach can turn to a stew of excitement and terror, often leaning more on the terror side.
    But four years later, as I begin graduate school at the same university, I can reflect on how this Christian institution has influenced my life in such a profound way. I didn't know all this in August of 2000 eating my Heath Blizzard, but I sure do now.
    Thank God for our Christian universities.

    By Blogger Steve Jr., at 8/11/2004 09:51:00 AM  

  • Mike,

    Thank you for the memory break! Yes, I too was a freshman at Harding in 1974. My first memories of Harding are of a peaceful existance. Harding for me was more like a dam between the turbulent waters of Texas redneck cowboys and roughnecks, to a peaceful sea of gentile souls. It was so refreshing to meet "older" guys like Bill Fowler, Lot Therio and Pete Nash who were more interested in building me up, than "whipping my ...."

    And the girls....like Cindy Oakley, as beautiful on the inside as on the outside (she married my second semester roommate Alan Standford).

    Also, it was an amazing thing to meet and get to know gifted men like "Doc" Holloway, sponsor of TNT, who devoted his life to encouraging young men.

    I do remember this long-haired dude who often wore T-shirts that were from Neosho, MO. Interesting name for a town I thought. As one whose self image could have been charted somewhere near pond scum, I was amazed at the intellectual and social abilities of many of my fellow freshmen --- and then there was pledge week.

    I can remeber listening to Jim Woodruff and Terry Smith and often thinking that this has got to be too good to be true. These guys speak as if they really know Jesus. Playing intramurral softball against men like Dr. Ganus and Jimmy Allen was surreal.

    Thanks for the memory jog blog!

    David "Chico" Barnett

    By Blogger David Michael, at 8/11/2004 10:52:00 AM  

  • I was 9 months old when you began college. I'm sure you're really glad to know that.

    Also, if you were at College Street preaching in the mid-80s, chances are pretty good that I was there to hear you a few times when visiting my Uncle Ken and Aunt Mary (the Johnsons.) I don't remember the preaching, though, sorry -- just that my cousin Kim had really cool twist-a-beads. Hadn't reached my spiritual awakening just yet. I remember a really big auditorium and lots of cute college guys.

    Sorry, that's kind of my own memory lane personal tangent, there.

    By Blogger Clarissa, at 8/11/2004 10:53:00 AM  

  • Speaking of President Nixon: Thirty years and a handful of days ago, I was sitting in the living room of Ann Buzhart, the daughter of Nixon's personal counsel, in Fairfax, VA. We had several classes together in high school and we had both just completed our freshman year of college.

    Last year, at our 30 year high school reunion, I ran into my old friend. She told me that her father died just a few short years after that,and I was thinking he wasn't all that old. I guess all of that Watergate stuff must have taken its toll on him.

    Thirty years ago this month, Jim and I got married. The years have been good to us. : )

    By Blogger Serena Voss, at 8/11/2004 11:09:00 AM  

  • 1974... well. Can't say that it brings any memories to mind, b/c I didn't bless this world until 1978, but the first week of my freshman year was something that will never leave my mind. I was a Tennessean in Lower Alabama, and for some reason this made people smile and nod their heads as if I was some imbicile.
    The question, "Do you milk cows?" was asked on more than one occasion. And our good pal Jon Owen's first comment to me was, "Wow! The Tennessee girl, huh? I'm glad to see that you're wearing shoes!" My rebuttal was taking them off immediately (I will add that I had on overalls, can't say that I didn't deserve it!). That was in the fire room at Vaughn Park church in Montgomery.
    Luckily, I stuck around to see that things did get better, it was one of the most incredible learning experiences of my life ~ and a time that I really found out who God was and found a reltaionship that is very dear to my heart with Him! The fall of '97 was indeed good to me!!!

    By Blogger Mae, at 8/11/2004 11:53:00 AM  

  • 1974--one year before I started Kindergarten. I still remember it.

    1988--Freshman Welcome Week at ACU. Whew! The Bible building was under construction--big bulldozers everywhere. There was no Chick-fil-a or Pizza Hut or whatever they have now in the Student Center. Only the "World Famous Bean". Famous for a reason. Disgusting. President Teague was leading cheers in chapel... "Go, Team, FIGHT!" Gata was not popular. Gamma Sigs were Kinsmen. Phi Quag Mire actually existed as did Tri Kappa Gamma. Hazing was still well in place. Girls wore things called "bubbles" that no one these days would consider putting on anyone over the age of three. INXS was the bomb as was U2. It was the best of times. It was the best of times. :)

    By Blogger Brandon Scott, at 8/11/2004 12:50:00 PM  

  • Greg: one of my favorite Harding memories is another Fortner memory. It sticks in my mind even more than the day he came into class and wrote in giant letters across the whiteboard: S-E-X, which he then explained he thought was the best way to get our attention.

    It was honors old testament (you know, the class he started by having us turn to Hebrews). I think I'll always remember the way he looked at the class and after having showered us with accolades re: being the "cream of the crop" as honors students, said quietly, "Listen: God doesn't need you." Those words have stuck with me the entire time. That God loves us, enjoys his creation and seeks relationship with us, but ultimately, God doesn't need us. It's one of those things I think I knew, but I didn't know.

    By Blogger Q, at 8/11/2004 12:57:00 PM  

  • I'm not sure if it's my FAVORITE memory of Dr. Fortner, but my most memorable came during pledge week of that semester. I think it was a Thursday...after 4 straight nights of an hour and a half of sleep each, staying up writing poems to my pledgemaster's girlfriends, serenading my pledge master's girlfriends on the phone, etc...somehow I was expected to pay attention as Dr. Fortner rambled on about Israelite this or BCE that. Anyway, being stuck in that classroom, early in the morning, in my navy blazer and tie, well...things got a little boring and very conducive to nap-taking. Unfortunately I sat on the second row, which was very much within Dr. Fortner's toilet-paper-roll-throwing distance! I just remember waking up to everyone laughing at me as the roll bounced off my noggin and landed right in front of me. So naturally, I did what any 18-year old freshman would do, and threw it back at him. I remember him not being very pleased with me.

    Anyway, I still have my E.P. Sanders book from that class...oh the memories! And yes, I remember the S-E-X day, and his numerous lectures with his text book spread open on top of his head like a little hat. What a weirdo!

    By Blogger Greg Kendall-Ball, at 8/11/2004 02:42:00 PM  

  • Ha. Okay, wait. That's MY favorite memory. Or when Laura E. wanted everyone to write on his evaluation, "Fortner is confrontational."

    Yeah, he's somewhat nontraditional (in the same way the Pope is "slightly Catholic"), but he's a good kind of weirdo.

    And if I began to calculate the money I've spent on books for his classes, it would only depress me. Except that I still have them all and enjoy most of them. ^_~

    In retrospect, I think I just liked that I could always count on Dr. Fortner to shake the stuffings out of my worldview.

    By Blogger Q, at 8/11/2004 04:41:00 PM  

  • "Right On Dude" with the Godfather II comment! Am I the only one who sees a deep spiritual "family" side to this movie?

    By Blogger Kevin Hammond, at 8/12/2004 07:32:00 AM  

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