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FLASHBACK: Pack your stuff, it's dorm move-in day - Odessa American: Opinions

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FLASHBACK: Pack your stuff, it's dorm move-in day

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Posted: Sunday, August 3, 2014 9:00 am

It’s August 1979, and at about 2 p.m., we arrive at College Inn on the campus of Southwest Texas State University ready to bring my belongings into my new digs.

My dad packed the car. I had clothes, a big green trunk filled with my haul of towels, sheets and other goodies after graduation and then my stereo – that was it!

We caravanned along with the family of my roomie-to-be and, after what seemed like an eternity, we finally arrived at dorm entrance.

I can recall we didn’t want too much fanfare. We were just ready to be on our own, and I think the parents were, too. They didn’t waste too much time unloading — and then it was hugs, kisses and bye-byes till Christmas.

“Yee-haw, we’re here!” I squealed at my bestie. “Let’s celebrate!”

My bestie and I had planned the day for months — and we could not wait. Ahh, but our hopes were dashed, momentarily, when we arrived and found that we were not in the same dorm. The college folks righted that a few weeks later, though, after the resident assistant in our room left school.

But we had packed for weeks and saved and collected lots of really great things to furnish our new abode. The first order of business was that sturdy trunk — yes, the kind you can lock and that can double as a coffee table. The most important possession we had transport — it trumped everything — was our stereo, which was gargantuan. It consisted of a turntable, receiver, cassette tape deck and two gigantic speakers. And we had two of them, not to mention the hundreds of albums that we schlepped up to the fourth floor.

But unlike the spoiled college students of today, we didn’t have a car — we hoofed it up and down the hills of that San Marcos campus. Believe me, it wasn’t easy. They didn’t even have cell phones yet — but we were in a constant dilemma over our long distance bills (they were the national debt back then). We had General Telephone on campus and if you were late paying or your parents refused to pay the exorbitant bill, the phone was promptly turned off until you paid. We considered it evil extortion.

Now in those days, we didn’t have a mini fridge or even stuff to fill it. We were on the college meal plan and that was it. The allowance was about $100 a month or $25 a week and that was it. And if you had some pocket change, a part-time job or a generous friend, maybe you got to go to Grin’s Hamburgers once in a while and splurge (it’s still there by the way).

These days, the list is quite mind-boggling. A few years ago, when I shuffled my oldest off to school — actually she shuffled right here to Odessa College — we arrived with all of the color-coordinated bedding, dishes groceries and goodies to get her started. I collected the rainbow-hued items for weeks before we arrived and I was quite a proud mom — and hoped she would have the cutest room in the dorm.

But we didn’t run out and buy a computer or a TV — frankly because she already had those things. And for the most part, we went the frugal route and oh, yes, like mother like daughter — she did not have a car right away (her grandparents were here). And you know what? She was OK.

Here I go again, in my feeble old lady voice, but … in my day … our parents didn’t ship us off to the dorms with “cute” bedding, computers (hell, we didn’t have those) mini-fridges, hot plates, cases of water, coffee pots, laptops, printers, area rugs, furniture and a plethora of other items listed on dormsmart.com.

But in coming weeks, parents will be heading to the local retailers to purchase all the goodies to outfit Junior or Juniorette’s dorm room. But I have a few ideas that could cut costs for parents and kids, too, so let’s take a lesson from the past.

As for furniture, most of it will be provided for you, but if you need a coffee table, use your trunk. If you need a shelf, utilize the ultimate in college décor: cinder blocks. As for window treatments, you can get little clips and use sheets — really. We didn’t have the clips in my day. Garage sales and thrift shops are good places to look for furniture — you don’t need anything new, trust me.

It’s college. Make the most of it and get to class.

Odessa, TX

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