I was still working the night shift in the computer room so my days were free. This was an ideal time to start a new career path and get out of computer operating.  I went to the Ulster County Community College admissions office and explained my desire to study drafting and design. I learned this would require the accumulation of 32 credits.  From admissions I was directed to a Mr. George Visvari in charge of drafting. Mr. Visvari was assigned as my guidance councilor. He was also the college soccer coach. Through his aggressive guidance UCCC had a continuous championship team.

Mr. Visvari came from Poland in 1956. He escaped the Russian bullets at a time when it was considered an inexecutable crime to leave.

I sat with Mr.Visvari in his office as I explained my plans for the future. My hopes were a degree in drafting and design. To accomplish this I said I would take one subject per semester.  George Visvari shook his head, "Mr. Coogan you will never get a degree taking one subject a semester. It will take too long and you will quit.'

"What alternative is there", I asked?

"You will have to take 12 to 16 credits a semester."

"Impossible", I replied, "I work eight hours a night at IBM. You're suggesting eight hours of school per day and there is the homework to consider. It isn't possible."

"Mr. Coogan". Said George in a very knowledgeable manner, If you want to do anything in this world bad enough, believe me it can be done."

I pointed to the fact that these students are fresh from high school. Learning and study to them is a daily habit. I have been away from school for thirty years.   After a half hour of discussion (George being a patient but demanding personality)       I finally said, "I'll try it."

"That's all I ask", said George.

Classes began with about twenty students, all from various schools in Ulster County.   Next to me was a young lady named Nancy Rose. Nancy and I became friends from the beginning and each day at break time we would go to the cafeteria for coffee. She would reveal her hopes of the future; Her dreams of working for Carrier Air Conditioning; Her boyfriend in service. Sometimes another girl Nancy Unger would accompany us. Her dad was a playwright in New York.

One student discharged from service was just getting used to an artificial leg. Another lad was a high school prima donna with a paper-thin personality. He started with straight A's, but quit with his first B. It is a shame how vanity can disrupt a person's future.

Through the year I worked the night shift without any absenteeism. I attended all classes and turned in my work on time.     I disciplined myself to three and a half hours sleep a night and had the use of the classroom and laboratory on weekends.  Nancy and I were pulling straight A's and could not understand why fellow students were getting lesser marks. Three students dropped out with F's.  It seems that Nancy and I were the only ones with an end-determination. The rest of the class were party animals or romantically involved.

Toward the end of the last semester we were given a project that had everyone intent on their work.   Monotony weighed heavily on George Visvari as he watch his class's progress. He had a badgering trait that appeared at such moments.

"Mr. Coogan", he addressed me.

"Mr. Visvari", I answered.

"I can remember when you first came to me you were concerned about the elapse of time since high school. You didn't think you could keep up with the young students."

"That's right," I agreed.

"Not only have you kept up", he continued, "but you have surpassed them."

"Thank you", said I expressing my appreciation.

A facetious grin appeared from ear to ear.  "And now that you and Miss Rose are going steady", he stopped at that point awaiting my reaction.

I pointed my finger at him for emphasis.    "Give me six more months and I'll have a harem."   He walked from the class shaking with laughter.

As part of an English assignment we were to attended a stage play at the Ellenville High School; one of the performers being our teacher. I made my car available to whoever might want to ride with me. I had seven takers. We could do it, but it would be a tight squeeze. As the date approached, one by one they all dropped out to take their girls in their own cars. The only person left was Nancy Unger.

Nancy was a frivolous little gal who reminded me of Daisy Mae in the L'il Abner comic strip. She came to class in ragged short jeans, sometimes without shoes.  When I inquired of her plans, I was horrified to learn she was still going with me; me thirty years her senior. Her attire was a royal blue velvet dress well above the knees and a white fur jacket she borrowed that was no longer than the dress.   Her eyelashes stood out to meet her hair and the lipstick was bright red.

Now it may seem strange to some readers, but I had inhibitions on top of inhibitions.

I could not imagine myself walking down the corridor at Ellenville with this kid on my arm. I walked three feet in front of her at all times.  When the show was over an we started home, she suggested that we park at the reservoir in a most isolated area.

Today I might do that just for the cuddling, but I could not do it then. I sweated bullets till I got her home.
The next day in class the teacher asked if that was my daughter with me. She near jumped out the window when I told her it was Nancy Unger.

A vast revelation dawned toward the end of the second semester. I was having trouble understanding a subject called Materials and Processes. My marks were continual D's and F's. The subject dealt with blast furnaces, electric ovens and Bessemer converters all for converting ore to pig iron. The subject included development of an alloy from different metals. Graphical charts traced the process from plastic state to liquid state through cooling.   I could not grasp the subject and I knew failure was inevitable. I read the text book from cover to cover at least six times.

I believe it was the seventh time through the book when a light appeared somewhere in the text. I don't recall exactly what it was, but the entire book came to life. I read it once more and a week later took the final exam. A few days later I reluctantly went to the college to inquire of my mark - despair was my middle name. The instructor suggested we take a walk. I thought to myself, "I feel bad enough. Be gentle."

He began with, "I know you didn't cheat because I watched you the whole time. You received the highest mark in the class, but because your marks were so bad all season, I can only give you a B+.

Can you imagine what a violent surprise like that can do to a persons ego?

I raised myself to full height, threw out my chest and orated,

"Well, to me an exam does not reveal a person's capabilities. It only reveals how much that person absorbed and how much he has retained. I believe I deserve an A."

The instructor smiled and asked, "would you settle for an A minus?"

The presence said, "Quit while you're ahead!" So I quit.   The major lesson learned was a person is capable of most anything if he truly wants to accomplish and tries hard enough.

It was a proud day that I climbed the platform to accept the paper I had worked for all year. The inspiration that was instilled brought me back every year to take courses in writing. More of that later. I did miss the classes and the kids even though I was fifty when I graduated.

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