Jimmy was my friend and one of the most unforgettable characters in my life. The first time we met was in college back in the Seventies. A knock on my dorm room door woke me from a nap that day. I was exhausted from having just driven several hundred miles and carried my luggage and stuff up a flight of stairs. As he entered, I was surprised because no one had informed me that I was going to have a new roommate. There stood a tall freckled faced character who acted as though he had known me all of my life. I asked him what he wanted and he informed me that he was my new room mate. I didn't question him any more, but told him he could have the bunk on the other side of the room. He tossed a big bag and some track shoes into the corner. He told me that he was on the track team and would be running a lot. I must admit that at first I was reluctant to be friendly with Jimmy. I told him in no uncertain terms that I was here at school to study and not act crazy and have a good time. Jimmy assured me that he was there too to finish his education like myself, and he would not interfere with me at all. I suppose that I was a little harsh because I was a Senior and working hard to complete my degree that year. There had been other room mates in the past at school who had been wise guys and not tried to study. All they did was drink and party all of he time.They had been a source of aggravation and interfered with my concentration more than once.
Jimmy lived up to his word and kept pretty much to himself most of the time. He was always going out on the track and participated in long distance running events. His one greatest bad habit was to toss his dirty and smelly sweats in the corner, and he failed to wash them on a regular basis. I was a stickler for cleanliness and was constantly picking up after my room mate. Jimmy did study and even asked me to help out on some of his subjects. We were actually in a couple of classes together that first quarter, and there were a few other guys in need of tutoring as well, in the dorm They came to me because I was a senior and I seemed to have my life at school in order. When I had a little spare time, I did not mind helping them out. I was an education major and i needed the practice. I had already taken some of my required education courses, like student teaching, and i realized that all the experience I could get would be helpful. Jimmy was a social guy and joined two separate fraternities. Alpha Phi Omega was a service fraternity affiliated with Scouting and Jimmy convinced me to attend a meeting to check it out. I was usually quiet and did not attend many social events at the time. I decided to take him up on the offer and I liked the group of guys, and the leader who was a professor at our school. Another duty that his man had was to help with registration and he was a good man to have on your side at college ,as I found out later, as I tried to get registered on time and get the correct courses that I needed to graduate, later on.
Jimmy had been my room mate for a couple of weeks and already he had gotten me out of my corner and I began to socialize more at college. I went to meetings, events at school, when we were designated to help usher and serve refreshments. I got out of a shell hat I had put myself in and got to know others at my school who had the same aspirations as myself. Later Jimmy talked me into running with him and although I could not keep up and last as long as he could, I did get more benefits from the exercise. Not long after the year had begun, Jimmy convinced me to come with him and some more guys out to the tennis court, and play a game or two. I was enjoying my day on the court and a coach at he school was recruiting players for the college team. He asked me if I had played in school earlier and I told him that my only experience was some in high school, and he encouraged me to join up and come to practice the next day. Soon, I was on the team with twelve other players and enjoying the heck out of getting to go to matches and eat special steak meals with all of the athletes at the University. I felt a little funny eating with football,baseball, and basketball players who dwarfed me. Jimmy and a couple of the guys on the track team always sat a a table with me and i got to really enjoy my time in college and take part in more activities. I began to go on dates with girls that I had met in some of the social events and began to realize that I had been missing out on some of the best times of my life. I owed it all to my room mate Jimmy. Jimmy was quite a character and always kept things upbeat. He liked to crack jokes and even played a few harmless ones on me. I did get aggravated a little on occasion but I learned that it was all just part of college life. I once saw myself as being reserved and shy and prone to stay alone a lot. Now that I had gotten out and become more social, I saw that a vital part of my experience in college was being realized. Jimmy had been a true friend and helped me. He was only a sophomore and had a ways to go in order to graduate. The first quarter went by fast with all the activities and soon it was Winter Time and the start of a new one. Jimmy remained as my room mate and we resumed studying and participation in a more outgoing college life. As I look back on those days, I realize that they were some of the best that I have ever had. My affiliation with the fraternity, and the events that I took part in, would later play an important role in my future life as an educator.
Jimmy got me on the court to play hand ball and soon I became a challenging participant at school. Guys were looking me up just to play a fast game or two, and I was beating some of the best. I began to take on a more robust feeling and my physical condition improved greatly. I continued playing on the tennis team and was doing well. There were events at college like productions and special nights when singing groups put on shows in which our fraternity took part in helping. I dated more during my last year in college than I had done in my entire life. I had my own car at school in the Spring and got to go to more events and dates. We had some days when there were outings with the fraternity, when we went camping, canoeing and fishing.These were all activities that grew up doing in the South and had missed being able to take part in them. It was a real joy in getting to once again go boating and fishing, just like in the old days at home. I owed this all to Jimmy.
The last quarter in college Jimmy stayed out and remained at his home. He told me that he needed to work a while and he might see me a time or two at a fraternity meeting during the summer. My summer was full of activities and I was very busy readying myself to graduate.I had no room mate the last quarter at school and I have to admit, it was pretty boring and lonely without my old buddy Jimmy there to keep me cheered up with his jokes and pranks.Upon graduation, I was off to my first teaching job and moving to a new town in my home state, My experiences back in college the preceding year were still fresh in my memory and later, as I was able to complete my first school year as a teacher, I decided to return to Summer College, in order to work on an advanced degree. I was delighted to learn of a house rental near the college and my old room mate would be there along with some friends who were in our fraternity. Jimmy was his same old self and this Summer was going to be another great and eventful one full of hard work, fishing, dates, and taking part in fraternity activities. I got to be with my old buddy Jimmy that last time and he would later graduate and become a counselor, working with families and children in his state. My time spent there would be cherished and its memory will always be held as a very special time in my life. My friend Jimmy will always be remembered as my most unforgettable character and special buddy. I felt blessed to have known him and always remember him as having a gift of the enjoyment of life. I met up with Jimmy several years later when he came by my home with his little girl for a visit. He was very proud of her and I introduced him to my wife and my own three year old baby daughter. We had a nice visit and remembered old times and I was pleased that he could come by to see us . Our friendship will always be there, and a strong bond was made that will not be undone over the years to come.