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Lines and More Lines

Screen Shot 2015-11-12 at 8.47.14 AMThis week, Tennessee Tech students return to campus and most have completed registration. According to the TTU website, students meet with their advisor, receive an advisement sheet, and complete registration online. Not so in 1965.

To continue Tennessee Tech’s Centennial celebration, my friends and I reminisced about our college registration days. We, too, met with advisors and determined our class schedule. Then we collected admission cards – computer cards with tiny rectangular shaped holes – for each class.

The thirty-five students (I really don’t know the exact number) who secured a card were admitted to the class, assuming we kept that card and presented it on the first day of class. So I determined which class time and teacher I most wanted. I stood in line hoping there would be a card for me. Yes! My first choice history teacher and a MWF class. On to the chemistry building.

The only organic chemistry lab open conflicted with my history class and I had to take the chemistry class. I hiked back in the history department and hoped to get in another class taught by Mrs. Delozier. I stood in line clutching my history card, a valuable card. Students behind me in line knew the card I was for closed classed and if I could have sold that card, I could’ve bought a good looking Villager sweater.

We students hiked from building to building and collected cards. Changing schedules. Swapping cards. Standing in lines. My friend Alicia wrote, “I clearly remember standing around the quad for three days waiting to get into a building to pull a card for a class.” She hoped someone would return a card for the class she wanted.

Memorial Gym was registration central. Students huddled in seats trying to determine their next choice, their next line to stand in. June remembers, “We went back to the gym. Back to the buildings. Lines everywhere. We usually only got about half of the classes and at the times we wanted and everyone tried to avoid Saturday classes.” Saturday classes! I hated that the only history class available taught by Mrs. Delozier met at 8:00-9:00, TTS.

When I finally secured cards for all of my classes, I headed back to Memorial Gym where tables were set up on the gym floor and Tech employees waited to collect fees. Registration fees. Housing fees. Meal tickets. Lines and more lines.

And it always rained on registration day! Always. As I write this, a painting hangs behind me. It’s entitled Sudden Rain, a painting by Joan Derryberry, first lady of Tennessee Tech from 1940-1974. The painting depicts a typical registration day. Students, in a long line, carry brightly colored umbrellas and walk toward Derryberry Hall.

Registration was also a time to meet other students. When my friend Blondie saw a high school classmate at the front of a line, she casually meandered beside her friend. T. D. stood behind Blondie’s friend and he began the conversation by saying that cutting line wasn’t fair. That night T. D. recognized Blondie at the freshmen mixer and invited her to dance. Blondie and T. D. dated during their college days and married after graduation. This year they’ll celebrate their 47th anniversary.

Registration, 1965. Long lines. Time to talk. Person-to-person contact. It wasn’t all bad. Even on rainy days.

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