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Virginia Tech Memorial

pachakuti turned me on to this site in a round about way. It has links to the various memorial funds set up to support the familes and students involved in the tragedy on Monday. And I really love this pic:

When I graduated from Gar-Field High school in Woodbridge, VA, in 1983 my class was just over 1,000 people. The last student newspaper of the year listed everyone's scholarships, class ranking and what they were going to do after high school. If you were from a fairly wealthy family, had exceptional grades or had a scholarship you might have gone to the University of Virginia. The rest of us (solid C average and a father in the military) went to schools like Va Tech, or Longwood or Old Dominion (the party school) or stayed home and went to Northern VA Comm College. Va Tech in those days was pretty much known for 2 things. Its goofy assed mascot (a castrated turkey or a hokie) and its agricultural school. In fact it was widely known amongst high school students as Farmers U. That last student newspaper listed over 200 names of those of us going to Va Tech that year. I ended up in Lee Hall, located within shouting distance of Ambler Johnston Hall, where the first shootings took place on Monday. My girlfriend at the time, Karen Bolling was a resident of East Ambler Johnston. Lee was a redneck hall if there ever was one. Most of us either came from the sticks of Virginia and West Virginia or we were Ag majors of some sort. Me, I was a Forestry major. I got to take classes like Dendrology (tree identification). Tech is unique among all the colleges in the US for having a living example of every tree native to the US, growing on Campus. So you didn't have to just look at books and imagine what a tree would look like. You could go right out and see it first hand. Acer Aceracea sticks in my mind for some reason. I was also a member of the forest fire fighting squad.

I didn't stay at Tech all that long. After my girlfriend dumped me at the end of my first quarter, I went into a deep depression. I drank way too much and managed to hang on for two more quarters before they were either going to kick me out or I was going to leave on my own. I took the latter path. But what I took away from Tech in lieu of a 4 year education was a handful of really good friends who I still keep in contact with almost 25 years later, and a wonderful headfull of great memories. Bunch of redneck boys from the the coal mining district of War, WV. Every free afternoon we got, we'd cut class and drive up to Bryan Hasty's grandmother's house in War and feast on rabbit stew and blackberry dumplings. Drink moonshine out back of her barn and shoot shotguns at old cans and bottles down at the dump. In April of 84, Bryan and I and another friend, Liz Nay from New Jersey stole all manner of building material that was not nailed down (and some that was) and built a home made raft that we intended to float down the New River for several miles. The raft did float and we had us one heck of a Huck Finn type adventure for an entire day and a half...until we got to the rapids at Radford Arsenal. There our raft went over a waterfall and split in two. We all got wet in the river full of recently melted mountain snow and we didn't get to shore together for several miles. We ended up tying up what was left of the raft to a water's edge sycamore tree in a sheep pasture, along some railroad tracks below the tiny village of Pepper, Virginia and had to hike several miles up the railroad tracks to the nearest phone so we could call friends and have them come get our sorry asses. All three of us lost everything we had. We all had hypothermia and I missed a Dendrology exam the next day. But I doubt any one of us would have traded the experience for the world. About 5 years later, I had occasion to journey down those lonely back roads to the spot where we ditched the raft. And there, tied to the old sycamore was a rotted rope with the last colorful traces of a weathered Confederate flag still clinging to it. Nothing else was left of the raft but standing there on the bank of the river, all those good times came flooding back to me.

That's what I think of when I think of Virgina Tech. And that's why it makes me so sad to think that because of the actions of one screwed up guy, 32 people won't get to look back at their time at Va Tech years later and have those kind of warm memories. Rest in peace my friends.




( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 21st, 2007 04:42 am (UTC)
I don't want to call him a screwed up guy. I don't think that part was his fault. Anyway, I love the stories, and that is a beautiful picture. I didn't know people from WV could get into VTech.
Apr. 21st, 2007 04:47 am (UTC)
Yeah, Tech will take anyone from anywhere. My friends from WV had kind of a scam going. The WV/VA state line ran right through the middle of their town. So if their kids were going to a WV school, they claimed to live in WV. If they were going to VA schools, they claimed to live in VA. In state tuition laws, you gotta love em.

My brother got a BA and an MA from there. I'm sure he's got tons more stories than I do. All in all, it's a place I wouldn't mind living in again.

Apr. 21st, 2007 05:09 am (UTC)
I went to college at Shepherd in Shepherdstown, WV and they accepted all northern Virginia students as in-state. Probably needed the money.
Apr. 21st, 2007 06:15 am (UTC)
That's an excellent link to VT. The real sadness sets in as the funerals begin.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )


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