We’ve Come A Long Way, Baby
What happened when the vets traded their guns for books?
JACK RUNNINGER, O.D.
Attending college and professional schools in the late 1940s was an adventure. After World War II, a huge influx of returning veterans swamped the schools. Colleges were not adequately prepared with facilities or personnel. And most students were not wide-eyed teenagers, but cynical war-weary vets, in their 20s, and old beyond their years. Professors thus did not have an easy job, and good professors were in short supply. There are two examples in particular I remember from my days at Southern College of Optometry.
My anatomy professor, Dr. Crowley, was a brilliant scientist, a marvelous lecturer, and a nice guy. He had only one tiny fault. He was an alcoholic, and usually didn’t show up for class. But he always returned a week or so before the final exam and crammed the whole course into just a few sessions.
“What did you think of the course?” he asked class member Jack Anderson as he turned in his final exam after one such alcohol shortened course.
“Very thorough,” replied Anderson. “Everything you didn’t cover during the course, you covered in the final exam!”
The nerve cell
He was an entertaining lecturer with a great sense of humor. During his course in neurology, he drew a sketch of a nerve cell on the board.
“This is a nerve cell,” he explained. “It is also the entire nervous system of Mike Cropsia. (Mike was notorious for being extremely lazy.) Thus, you can see that this is not a motor nerve cell, but rather a sensory nerve cell.”
I did at times however, wonder a little bit about his sense of humor since his favorite joke was:
“Battle Scarred General To Speak At Local Meeting,” the headline in the paper was supposed to say. Unfortunately there was a typo, and instead it read, “Bottle Scarred General To Speak At Local Meeting.” The general complained bitterly to the editor and threatened to sue. So the next day they re-ran the story to correct the typo. The headline this time referred to him as the “Battle Scared General.”
The etymology professor
Another of our profs was an innocent and gullible elderly lady who taught etymology. Our lecture hall was a large metal Quonset hut. On the first day of class she passed around a roll sheet. From this sheet she called roll at each class session.
One of the standing jokes in each branch of service during the war was a cartoon character named Kilroy. No matter where you went you’d probably find a cartoon character, peering over a wall, eyes barely above the wall, and nose hanging over the wall. Underneath would be written, “Kilroy was here.”
When we signed the roll for the first day of class, some joker signed Kilroy’s name. Thenceforth whenever the poor teacher in calling roll, would come to Kilroy’s name at the beginning of each class, there was no “here” forthcoming from Mr. Kilroy. This became a great concern for the lady, and at every class session she would ask if anyone knew anything about Mr. Kilroy, was he ill, had he dropped the course, etc.
Educationally, we’ve come a long way, baby. OM
JACK RUNNINGER, OUR CONSULTING EDITOR, LIVES IN ROME, GA. HE’S ALSO A PAST EDITOR OF OM. CONTACT HIM AT RUNNINGERJ@COMCAST.NET.
Optometric Management, Volume: 48 , Issue: May 2013, page(s): 80