Back-to-School Memories

We asked you for some of your favorite memories of coming back to campus in the fall. Here’s what you told us.

My friend, Norman McGill (’91), and I are both UT grads that met in Atlanta. We started writing and producing music together and have since formed The Gillmanns. One of the songs we created is “Goin’ Back to Knoxville.” Norm wrote the core of the song, and I added in additional instrumentation and melodies. At the time of working on the song, we had both been away from Knoxville for several years. Every year prior, we would each make the drive up to Knoxville in the fall—headed to a football game (of course). Norm had the idea to capture the feeling you get when you make your way through the mountains on your way into Chattanooga and then Knoxville. It’s an exciting feeling because it will always feel like home…that’s why they say, “Rocky Top you’ll always be home sweet home to me.” Our efforts were focused on evoking the same feeling of excitement in the lyrics and music.

—Chris Mann

From the Editor: You can listen to “Goin’ Back to Knoxville” for free.

I can’t tell any stories about coming back to UT from summer vacation because I never had a summer vacation from UT. By the time I transferred from UTMB, I was a co-op student working fall and spring quarters and going to school summer and winter quarters. Once, I was invited to a big fraternity party by a friend—which was a real opportunity for me as I was never a member of a fraternity. My date was one of the most beautiful girls I have ever known.  In fact, she was the former Miss Blount County and a Miss Tennessee contestant!

Guests were expected to bring their own bottle, as this was during the time when Knox County was dry. Delivery sales were common in town, but I had never used the service. I asked a friend if he had the phone number of a bootlegger. He didn’t, but told me to just call the information operator. I went to the pay phone in the hallway outside my room and made the call.

When I asked the operator if she had the number of a bootlegger, she replied in a very professional voice, “I’m sorry sir, but we have no listings under ‘bootlegger.’”

Feeling somewhat foolish, I started to apologize. Then she resumed with, “but you might try this number listed as ‘interior decorator.'”

I called the number and heard the response, “Citywide Services, what would you like to order?”

I gave my order for a fifth of gin and my room number in South Stadium Hall. The person on the phone informed me that they would not deliver inside the dormitory, but would meet me at the nearest entrance. That was the main ticket office. Within fifteen minutes I had my bottle of booze.

—Doug Johnson (’65)
Denham Springs, LA

My recollection is perhaps a little more dated than most.  I graduated in 1968 from the College of Engineering.

Fall meant, and still means, football. And I am a great fan of college football.  Returning each September was as easy as could be because it meant that it was once again “Football Time in Tennessee!”

Several years after graduation, I met my wife-to-be. To my surprise, she too likes college football (especially if the team wears orange and white). Another five years later, our son came along and [now] equally enjoys college ball. Our three-year-old granddaughter doesn’t stand a chance; she regularly attends college games with her parents and has done so since shortly after birth!

—Stuart Fynboe (’68)

I attended UT in the early 1980s, while the university was still on the quarter system. My favorite recollections of returning to Knoxville in late September were:

  • Getting what seemed like a vastly extended summer break as compared to my friends who attended schools on the semester system and returned to their studies in mid-August;
  • Returning to school when it was really autumn—the leaves in the mountains on the cusp of turning into orange, red, and gold, and football season was already in full swing;
  • Only ten weeks until Christmas break!

All of these factors made staying in session (spring quarter) until early June well worth it. Great memories, indeed.

—Edwin Williamson (’84)

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