Monday, August 15, 2016

Time Hop: What I took to college in 1991

Hello? Not even a cordless phone back then

By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
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It's hard for me to accept that 25 years ago this month I started college. On a hot summer day in mid-August my parents and I made the two hour drive from High Ridge, Missouri to Cape Girardeau and the campus of Southeast Missouri State University. My best friend from high school, Jim and I, were roomies on the the sixth floor of Towers West.

For new SEMO students this was before there were suites, it was two person bedrooms, complete with a bunkbed, two desks and two desks chairs. There was a sink and mirror and two closets with a storage area above each. That was about it. There was a community payphone in the hall, but each room was wired for phones too. The bag carphone my parents had wasn't an option and was the closest thing to a cellphone we had in 1991.

As friends are helping move their children this month into new homes away from home, I've been reflecting on the essentials for life on my own 25 years ago. Some of these things today's college students have probably never used (and maybe even heard of).

For the dorm room I brought a roll of carpet to cover the cold tile floor in the room. It made a difference and gave the room a more homey feel to it. I mentioned the phone early, so I brought a push button phone and an answering machine (remember those?). We may have actually gone out and bought the answering machine now that I think about it, I had so many through the years I don't remember.

TV, fridge, toaster oven and my dad
Entertainment was a must. I had a small color TV with a VCR and a collection of VHS tapes, including first couple seasons of The Simpsons recorded straight from broadcast television. This came in handy because we didn't have cable in the dorm rooms and there was only one TV in the common area which was shared among 30 or so dudes. My boom box and collection of cassette tapes made the trip too. I didn't get a CD player until Christmas that year. I had brought a small sampling of my wrestling magazine collection, limiting seven years worth to what would fit in a milk crate.

Bubba Cola was the bomb
The meal plan on campus didn't include Sunday night dinner. Not knowing if we'd have access to a microwave, my parents bought me a small electric hot pot. Nearly every week I'd fill it with a can of SpaghettiOs with meatballs that we'd stocked up on before my parents left town. Because the pot was portable I could take it and have dinner on the go with friends who didn't live on 6 West. I brought a mini fridge too, stocked with Bubba Cola (a St. Louis thing) and a toaster oven for the rare morning I got up with enough time to make toast for breakfast.

The whole reason I was there was for academics of course. Long before laptops or tablets, I wrote all my papers on my typewriter I used during my senior year college composition class. I had plenty of paper and correction ribbon packed too. To help with the note taking process in class I used graduation money to buy a handheld recorder and mini cassette tapes for it. I don't think I used the thing beyond that first semester.

The naughty nurse was always watching...
Jim and I added some extras to the room once we got settled in, including a 2x4 that extended across the room and provided extra shelf space. We also "decorated" with way too many posters of scantily clad women, but I digress...

The most important thing I brought was an open mind and a willingness to learn and have fun. College life was amazing. That first year in the dorms was a great experience and a true chance to dabble in independence. I'm grateful to my parents for letting this baby bird leave the nest and get a taste of the real world before having to really step out into it. I wouldn't trade the fall of 1991 and spring of 92 for anything in the world.

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