First floor or sixth?

Seems like every day I look Facebook, parents or kids are getting ready for, packing or even moving in for the first time in College.  Each parent is different when this happens. You’ve got some that hover over every decision, some that take it upon themselves to do the shopping and packing for  taking them the first day, hanging out, making sure they are all moved in.   Then you have my Dad’s way…

September 1982 (LORD that is a LONG time ago) was the beginning of my career at Washington State University (GO COUGS!).  Back then, we of course did NOT have the internet  So everything was done on paper.  WSU sent out a list to all incoming freshman asking them to pick a dorm.  I randomly chose one, and then looked at the enclosed “What all Freshman need” list.

Having no idea, and not knowing anyone who had ever been there, the list was my guideline.  The summer of 1982 we lived in a house just behind Fred Meyers.  Each day after work, with my wad of $1 bills (Minds out of the gutter people!  I was a bag boy on McChord air force base, we worked for tips only).  I’d head in and gather a few more items on the list.

My room soon had a stack of boxes, laundry baskets and school supplies.  Soon it was time to go.  I did laundry, washing everything I owned except for what I was going to wear, then emptied each drawer of my dresser in a giant army duffel bag.  My dad did check to ask “Got everything on the list?” When I nodded, it was time to load the pickup!

One thing you need to understand about my dad, and thinking about it I am the exact same way, if there is an event that runs from this time to that, you better DAMN well be there as soon as it starts.  Move in time began at 9 (if I remember correctly) so his plan was to be the first in line.

However, Pullman (Home of WSU GO COUGS!) is 300 miles away from Tacoma.  For most of us, that would mean heading over the day before, getting a hotel close to town if town was booked, then getting up and heading to school.

To my dad it meant “OK, we leave at 10 PM, that will give us time for breakfast before it starts!”  Yep, we drove all night!  He loved night driving, and would continue to do it and show up at oh dark thirty for every Dad’s weekend while I was there!  (My roommates hated it cuz he was NOT quiet!)

We took off, he, I, and a friend of his coming along for the ride.  I promptly went to sleep in the back seat (My dad preferred BIG pickups).  Now remember, this was people Google Maps or SIRI.  He planned the route the old fashion way, with a map.  This works well, except he also liked scenic routes (remember this is over night driving….) So he decided the best way was over Chinook Pass, through Yakima, and the Tri cities.

For those not from these parts, it would be like going from LA to Vegas via the Grand Canyon, but since you’d be at the canyon at midnight there’d be nothing to see…

I woke up once, no idea where, to hear, “Yeah I am pretty sure we missed a turn 20 miles back, I have no idea where we are!”  Being the smart man I was, I went back to sleep.

We stopped for breakfast in a town called Clarkston (Don’t ask me HOW we got there, it is NOT the direct route… ) and I had a big stack of pancakes.  Sure enough, at 8:55 though, we were in front of Goldsworthy Hall, and ready to unload!

I stepped up the welcome table, and they asked me “First floor or sixth?”  First seemed easier, and it was done.  He and I unloaded the truck in 15 minutes, I locked up the 10-speed on the covered rack, and he was the wind! (He believed in sink or swim)

Thinking back, there are only a few things I remember specifically about that day.  I unpacked everything and got to pick my side of the dorm being there first.  I met my roommate Kevin (who turned out to be a douchewaffle so we only lasted one semester).  I rode my bike to the Cougar Country Drive In for a Coug Burger (DAMN good) and walked around campus.

The clearest memory?  REO Speedwagon, “Heard it from a friend” blaring from speakers in one dorms window.  I was now a WSU COUG.

It took a week or so to settle in and meet people, but it wasn’t long before I met some of the people on the floor that would follow me throughout the time in WSU

Stormin Norman Dean my roommate the second semester


The Immortal Pete Lamb, and Darsi Bucher, who helped raise me from a pup I was until I met the Strohs a few years later.


And the big Man!  Scott the Mudsucker Callahan, Captain Quiet Hours (CQ).  We’ve stuck together since 82, and will be going to the COUG game in 2 weeks!



(He’s the one without the cowboy hat!)

Not many parents do the sink or swim technique, but for me it worked well.  I was on my own and independent from the second he drove away, and continued to be so from then on!

I often wonder what woulda happened and how things would be different if I’da said sixth floor, but it’s random decisions like this, knowing it could go either way and there is no plan, that makes life interesting and fun to live!

I hope all the kids  starting this year make the same type of friends and experience the same memories I did.  It’ll be hard though, WSU has a special kind of magic, and I am lucky to one of those to experience it!


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