In 1961, I graduated from Happy High School--ready to
take on the big world. First, I went to West Texas State
College in Canyon, Texas, just 15 miles north. I had a
full scholarship for that first year--either because I was
class valedictorian or because Lynn and I had won the
state debate contest in Interscholastic League. I don't
remember which. I only remember that I would be able
to go to college, and that first year wouldn't cost a dime!
Then in September, 1962, I started school at Abilene
Christian College (now university) in what to me at the
time was the big city of Abilene, Texas.
About 180 miles west of Dallas/Fort Worth, Abilene was
a historic city, having been established in 1881 as the
county seat of Taylor County. I knew nothing of its
history at the time, but as I've worked on this website,
I've been impressed with all the city has done to honor
The sites were there, the museums and websites were
not. The remains of Fort Phantom Hill could be seen
10 miles north of town. Students may have used it
otherwise, but it was a historic site--
I remember the 1909 Grace Hotel, which is now a
museum, and I saw movies at the art deco Paramount
Theater two blocks away.
I enjoyed both buildings, even though I knew nothing of
their history or architecture. Coming from Happy,
Texas, they impressed me as buildings, because
nothing in Happy was beautiful just for beauty's sake,
like the theater, or as large as the hotel. We couldn't
Happy was just a dirty little town where everything was
functional. Abilene helped start my lifelong appreciation
Ever the one for optimum effect, Daddy rented a private
plane from the little airport in Tulia for the trip down. He
must have felt intimidated as well. We flew down to
Abilene before school started to be met at the airport by
one of the administrators.
That was the sort of gesture that was important to my father,
especially if you're asking for help from someone in authority,
And I needed all the help I could get if I were to have a chance
of staying in college. If you're asking for help, there's no
better way to do it than to look like you don't need it.
This was the beginning of an understanding of people who
saw the world differently from me. A certain type of person
will consider it your fault if you need anything or have to ask
for help. They assume you are lazy, and that was far from the
truth. Our whole family worked very hard to provide what we
were able to bring in. It just wasn't very much.
I could do a lot of good if I could find a way to help homeless
people look more prosperous. I know good, honest people
who would be more willing to help them if they didn't think
they needed it.
Others worry that they won't spend it wisely. My Daddy was
prepared to go deep into debt to secure my future. He was
also prepared to infuriate my mother. I can just hear her:
"Cecil, all you care about is flying. You don't care that it takes
food out of your family's mouths."
My parents loved each other a lot. Mother just didn't
understand what Daddy did about human nature. I didn't
either until recently. Daddy was caring for his famiy the best
way he knew how.
And it worked. I had a dual major in English/journalism, got a
job helping Reg Westmoreland write publicity for the college,
and worked as news editor for the school paper, the Optimist,
which was edited at the time by Harold and Carole Straughn.
That helped pay a good bit of the year's tuition, though it took
some really hard work to have two jobs on top of a dual major.
The Straughns introduced me to this dark and brooding
student, Frank Silvey, and on August 25, 2013, one of our
ACU friends, Kay Burton Nagel, was in Los Angeles when we
celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary. That was the
beginning of my change in attitude about Abilene Christian. I
could begin to appreciate the good things and forgive the
ones that I hadn't appreciated.
An eclectic website about Women, Christianity, History, Culture and
the Arts--and anything else that comes to mind.
Out into the Big World
The ruins of Fort Phantom Hill (above), the Paramount Theater (above left), and the Grace Hotel (above right) in
Kay Burton (left) with Frank and me at his parents' house in
Lubbock in 1965. Kay Burton Nagel at our 50th wedding
anniversary in Los Angeles August 25, 2013.
|The August issue of my website is the fourth chapter of my memoirs, which I’m publishing between now and the end of
the year. The third chapter was the story of my mother's family, and our life in Happy, Texas.
This issue tells about my move from Happy (population 642) to the big city of Abilene (90,000) where I attended Abilene
Christian College and received an education in and out of class, edited the Optimist student newspaper, and most
especially, met and married the man I've shared the past 52 years with.
Your thoughts, reactions and reminiscences are always welcome. Please email me at email@example.com.