[SeMissourian.com] Fair ~ 67°F  
High: 70°F ~ Low: 48°F
Wednesday, Sep. 28, 2016

Friends are priceless

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

One of the songs we often sang in college at the church student group had lyrics that said that new friends are silver and old friends are gold. This song indicates that friends are valuable. They are priceless.

During my life I have become acquainted with a large number of people. They say that a person only has a few friends, the rest are acquaintances. Friends are those people who are there when they are needed and stand by you, regardless of the circumstances. Some of my friends I have known for nearly a lifetime and others for a shorter period of time.

There are also a large number of people who I felt close to at one time, but over time have lost contact with and gone in different directions.

Recently, while at Branson, we got together with a former Missouri University roommate and his wife whom we had not seen for several years. There was really no reason we had not gotten together, since in recent years they lived at Cuba, Mo., after moving there from the St. Louis area after retiring. We would keep in touch at Christmas as well as on other occasions and we talked about getting together, but a year would go by without seeing each other, only leading to another year. That continued for several years.

My former roommate is Dail Stone who is originally from Bucklin, Mo., Dr. Tom Bunton's home town. We lived in a basement apartment, near the MU campus, with Al McGlothlin, who was from Novelty, Mo. At the time we thought the apartment was great and we enjoyed living together and developed a good friendship.

After he got out of the Air Force and I got out of the Army and we were settled into our careers, we went to the St. Louis area once to visit with them. And they came down to Nevada once in the early 60s. I did see them once while attending an Extension meeting in St. Louis when they came to see me. How rapidly the years pass.

Two years ago, they sent us a picture of themselves celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary with their family. Seeing the young people in the picture and seeing Dail and Bev in the picture was an indication that they had gotten older.

It was with great anticipation that we were finally getting together. While Dail is heavier then when we were in college and he looks older, he is still the same person. I found him to have the same facial expressions and the same hand jesters. We had many laughs once again, as well as, some serious conversations while we caught up with each other. Naturally the conversation was much different then it was while we were going to school. Health has become a more prominent subject. Frequently we would wrestle with each other while we lived in the apartment and that is certainly not something that we consider doing any more. Those were the days.

Many readers have said that the columns they like the best relate to me growing up on the farm. Perhaps writing about some of my experiences while attending MU will be of similar interest. Certainly, college life is much different now than it was in the 1950s.

Before I went to the university the veterans had come back from World War II and had gone to school on the GI Bill. This created a major influx of students at MU, with about 12, 000 students enrolled. The students lived anywhere they could find a place to live. All of that was nearly over by the time I went to college and the student population was more like 6,000. That was a big college at that time, even though there were fewer students than in previous years.

The present enrollment at the University is nearly five times what it was then. This year it has nearly that many freshmen. Memorial Stadium at that time did not go up any higher than ground level, holding nearly 30,000 spectators. That was considered a large number.

I had been on the campus for 4-H and FFA events and as a result I was somewhat familiar with the campus. Years later my mother told me that when she took me to school that she had a hard time leaving her boy up there in that big place.

My freshman year, I lived in Cramer Hall. The dorm complex at that time did not have a cafeteria, so we walked over to Crowder Hall to eat in the cafeteria where they fed us 20 meals a week. At the time, I thought the food was terrible. Later in life when looking back at it, I realize that eating in the cafeteria was a good deal.

I had decided that I was not going to live in the dorm the following year. I had not picked a place to live and at the last minute another guy that I knew and I found a rooming house near the campus to live. Al lived in the same house and we became friends. He and Dail had attended the college in Kirksville the previous year and were in the College of Engineering. Dail lived two houses from us and I became acquainted with him through Al. The following summer they found an apartment for us to live in for my remaining two years. They attended the University for another year after I graduated.

On July 6, 1957, Al was in the Navy and he was taking a hop. They went down and were never found. That was tough when I found out about his tragic death; it one of the hardest things I ever experienced in life.

Certainly life at the university is much different than it was when I was a student there. While students now may have a difficult time understanding how life was like at that time, I have a difficult time of understanding the life of a student these days.

One of the things I have wanted to happen for a long time became a reality this summer when we got together with my former roommate and his wife -- friends are priceless.

Leonard Ernsbarger
Leonard At Large