I flirted last year with returning to college to complete my master’s degree. It wouldn’t have advanced my career. That’s mostly over with.
It would have simply been taking care of unfinished business. In 1977 I left the Bolivar Herald-Free Press for graduate school, but didn’t finish the program; rather, I started with the Buffalo Reflex in late summer 1978, and I’m still here on a freelance basis.
The more I thought about finishing my graduate degree, the more I realized it was a pipe dream. I have neither the time nor the money. I’m retired.
Moreover, I’ve been on the Missouri State University campus a few times in the past year. It’s not the college I remember.
I once knew Southwest Missouri State College as well as my own backyard. Most of the campus was located in a city block; but it wasn’t destined to remain thus confined in the late 1960s. I watched Craig Hall being built when I started and saw the new science building go up on the other side of Kings Avenue before I left in 1971.
By the time I was in my fourth year I was editor of the college newspaper and had taken classes in virtually every building.
In many ways, SMS was like a small town, and for a season I was that small town’s newspaper editor. I guess it wasn’t much different when I left college for the U.S. Air Force in May 1971. Uncle Sam put me in another small town — Seymour Johnson AFB in North Carolina — and made me editor there.
When I returned to college in the fall of 1974, it was still a small town — but growing fast. One major thing had changed: I earned my degree from a state university, rather than a state college. But, I could still find my way around campus.
As a fan of Tent Theatre, I’ve been on campus several times in the past 40 years and watched it grow to include a big chunk of downtown Springfield. It’s truly a sprawling university today. It’s not the college I remember.
I don’t know what I was thinking when I considered going back. It’s absolutely true, what Thomas Wolfe wrote: You can’t go home again.
Copyright 2023, James E. Hamilton; email email@example.com. Read more of his works in Ozarks RFD 2010-2015, available online from Amazon, Barnes & Noble or from the author.
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