This is primarily a travel blog in which I write about traveling in our motorhome. Our travels have

Nacogdoches, TX, United States
I began this blog as a vehicle for reporting on a 47-day trip made by my wife and me in our motorhome down to the Yucatan Peninsula and back. I continued writing about our post-Yucatan travels and gradually began including non-travel related topics. I often rant about things that piss me off, such as gun violence, fracking, healthcare, education, and anything else that pushes my button. I have a photography gallery on my Smugmug site (

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Going Back

Today we drove down to Athens (GA) to visit the University of Georgia (UGA) campus for the first time in over ten years and one of only a few visits in the last 30 or 40 years.  Carol Ann and I both went to pharmacy school at UGA.  I graduated from the College of Pharmacy in 1967 and Carol Ann in 1968.  Before I tell you how I changed majors from chemistry to pharmacy I have to relate some things to you about Athens and UGA.

First of all, both Athens and UGA are a lot bigger than they were in the 1960’s.  Many things have changed and yet much is still the same.  In the 1960 census, Athens had a population of 31,355 and probably around 35,000 when I graduated in ‘67.  In the 2010 census, the population of Athens was 115,452 and it was the fastest-growing big city in Georgia between the 2000 and the 2010 census.  Downtown Athens doesn’t really look much different now than it did when I was at UGA, except that many of those same buildings now house restaurants and bars. 

Athens and Clark County were dry, except for beer and wine, back in the 60’s.  If we wanted liquor, say, for a football game when southern football etiquette called for bourbon, we had to drive about 50 miles to South Carolina.  A package store was just across the state line.  You had to be careful because the Georgia State Patrol would sometimes be watching from the Georgia side and stop cars as they came back across into Georgia.  They would confiscate the liquor and charge the driver with bootlegging.  I never actually knew of anyone getting caught so it may have been an urban (or rural in this case) legend.

In 1962, when I enrolled at UGA, there were a little over 11,000 students.  Now the enrollment is approximately 35,000 students and there are thousands more students in the University of Georgia system throughout the state.  In the 60’s, most of the campus was situated on two hills and called North Campus and South Campus.  Between the two campuses was a natural depression containing Sanford Stadium and its parking lot.  To walk from one campus to the other required walking up and down an awful lot of steps until a bridge was built connecting the two campuses.  North Campus was mostly liberal arts while South Campus was home to the sciences.  The hill that South Campus calls home is also known as “Ag Hill” because one of the first schools built there was the College of Agriculture.  I spent most of my time on that hill.  Not in the Ag college, but in the physics building, chemistry building, biological sciences building, the geography building (also the home to math) and the pharmacy school. Today, I was awed by how much the campus has grown.  There wasn’t a lot of space to the North or West for campus growth because of the city.  It had to grow East and South.  There is no longer just a North and a South Campus.  The newer campus is much larger than the old campus with which I used to be so familiar.

I did miss my old haunts today.  When I was a freshman I learned to drink beer at “The Old South” tavern, which was located right across the street from the northern end of North Campus.  Freshmen were required to live on-campus and not allowed to have cars.  The Old South was perfectly located.   It was within easy walking distance of the freshmen dorms.  ID’s were not checked at The Old South. It was often said that anyone tall enough to lay money on the bar would be served.  I remember that draft beer was only 99 cents a pitcher or 25 cents a mug.  You could get shit-faced and not worry about getting a DUI as you stumbled back to the dorm.

I also recall a few times when the bartender, after getting a phone call, made the rounds of the booths and tables telling everyone to drink up and leave if they weren't 21 years old.  A short while later the police would arrive and check ID’s.  As far as I know, they never found any under-age drinkers at The Old South. 

Once you had a car and were more mobile, Harry’s at Five Points was the place to go, especially on a warm spring afternoon.  It was the only place in Athens that served beer on the curb.  It was a drive-in restaurant with a parking lot full of students drinking beer in their cars.  If you had an hour or two between classes it was not unheard of to drive down to Five Points for a beer or two at Harry’s before heading back to class.  By the Spring Quarter of my sophomore year I was beginning to see that chemistry was not for me.  After that I spent a lot of time at Harry’s before my late afternoon chemistry class that quarter.  I would often take a friend with me and we would get two beers each, pour them into milkshake cups and take them to chemistry class.  Although there were a couple of hundred students in the lecture auditorium we had to attend class because roll was taken and only a certain number of cuts were allowed before you got an F in the class.  All seats were numbered and each student was assigned a number.  A graduate student would come in during lecture and record the empty seat numbers.  I was going to flunk the course anyway, so I think the only reason I went to class was for the fun of sitting there drinking beer during a lecture on quantum mechanics.  What was really crazy is that my friend wasn’t even enrolled in the chemistry class!  Unfortunately, the City of Athens soon passed an ordnance that outlawed beer on the curb, which eventually led to Harry’s going out of business.

The best place to take a date and drink beer was Allen’s.  Until it closed in 2003, it was the oldest continuously operating bar in Athens.  It was out on Prince Avenue across the street from the “Navy School” (I believe it was a supply-management school for Naval officers).  Allen’s was really a great place.  The hamburgers were good and the beer was cold.  There were a number of arcade-type games, mainly pinball machines and bowling games.  Bowling was my favorite.  It was a two-player game in which players alternated sliding a metal “puck” down the slick table-surface towards the pins.  The pins were a few inches above the surface with a small “trip switch” under each one.  When the puck passed over the switches, the corresponding pins would flip up and out of sight.  Scoring was identical to regular bowling.  I wasn’t any good at regular bowing but I won many a mug of beer playing bowling at Allen's.

Allen’s had a basement that was for “couples only”.  Your date didn’t have to be subjected to the raucous group on the bar’s ground floor.  A gate next to the bar was watched by one of the bartenders who pressed a button to unlock the gate for couples to go down the steps.  It was darker in the basement and there were booths along the walls.  The basement also had a jukebox and small dance floor.  I don’t remember anything but slow dancing down there.  No wait-staff or bartender bothered you down there.  You placed your order over an intercom, the bartender told you the cost, you placed money on a dumb-waiter, gave the OK over the intercom to the bartender, the money went up in the dumb-waiter, and your beer, hamburgers, and change came back down.  It was a really great system.

There weren’t very many fast food restaurants in Athens in the 60’s. But there was the Varsity.  The Varsity is a whole ‘nother story and I will save it for another time.  I still haven’t told you how I got from being a BS Chem major to a BS Pharm major.

After the fall quarter of my sophomore year I went home for Christmas and while there decided that I HAD to change majors or else I would be in school an awful long time and still might never receive a chemistry degree.  As soon as I got back to UGA I went to see my advisor and informed him of my decision to change majors.  He asked me what I wanted to change to.  I said I didn’t know.  I was almost 21 years old, had almost 3 years (if you include summer school) of college and still didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up. 

My advisor picked up a catalog, flipped through it and said, “Hmmmm.  If you change to pharmacy you won’t loose any credits and some of your extra chemistry can count as electives.” 

“OK, I’ll go to pharmacy school,” I responded.

 “Not so fast,” he said.  “You have to apply and have an interview with the Dean of the College of Pharmacy.”

So I did.  And when asked by the dean, why I wanted to be a pharmacist, I told him “I have always wanted to be a pharmacist.  My father is a physician and I think pharmacy would be the next best thing!”

Obviously, it was much easier to gain admission to pharmacy school in “those days.”  Still, I haven’t done too badly in the profession.  In fact, I think I’m a pretty damn good clinical pharmacist.  I even went back to school on the GI Bill (after Vietnam) and got my Doctor of Pharmacy degree.  No brag.  Just fact.  I am now recently retired (for the second or third time) and have no regrets. 


No comments :