From 1950 to 1952, I attended East Central Junior College, at Decatur, MS. There were some high school classmates at ECJC and we hitchhiked home to Edinburg every Friday afternoon and back to Decatur on Sunday. The next year most of the Edinburg boys dropped out but W.B. Smith got an A Model Ford coupe and I rode home with him on weekends. Also from our high school class was Faye (Newsome) Culpepper, who graduated from ECJC and went on to MSC. The summer between my 2 years at ECJC, I worked on the school farm, plowing a horse and made a corn crop for them. I went to work at 7 AM, ate lunch in the field and knocked off at 5 PM with the whole evening to do as I pleased. I stayed in the dorm, ate at the cafeteria and got $3 per day for 10 hours of work. It was great!! More adventures at ECJC.
After ECJC I went to Mississippi State and decided to major in Agriculture Education like my daddy. I worked in the college grill which paid NO money but gave me free meals at the grill. I was the brokest but best fed kid on the campus. At night I would go through the line and order 4 sandwiches, eat one and sell the other 3 to my buddies for two bits apiece to get spending money. Then they said we could only eat plate lunches so that ended that. The next year I delivered the campus mail, and was paid $12 per week. Now I had lots of spending money if I didn't eat. More adventures at MSC. The first time I was almost killed!
My Uncle Alton Grimes, a math professor, was a reserve LCDR in the US Navy and started a reserve unit on campus and recruited me to join. He helped me get into a Reserve Officer program and the summer after my junior year I rode my first train to Long Beach, CA to attend my first session of ROC school. It was the first time I had been out of Mississippi, except for a fishing trip into Alabama, so it was quite an adventure. After the first 2 weeks we got a weekend pass and I went with some of my buddies to Disney Land, Knotts Berry Farm and to Hollywood and Vine. Another weekend the Navy took us on a boat to Catalina Island and one weekend I visited my Uncle Doc Grimes and family at their home in Fullerton. This was the last time I ever saw any of them. I heard Doc died several years ago. I guess his children and grandchildren still live in California. In 2006, I "Googled" the names of Doc's kids and found a website belonging to his youngest. but when I went back to it, a couple years later, the site was not working and I was unable to get anything on him.
At the end of my junior year, I decided I was meant to be an engineer. I got down the catalog, checked the engineering curiculum against my credits and found I would be a first semester sophomore in engineering. My daddy nixed that idea and said, "Just get your degree in something and get your Navy time in. You can go back to school on the GI Bill". I looked at the catalog and decided I could take lots of math and science courses, which could be used for engineering later and switched to Math/Science Education where I could finish in just one extra semester.
The next year our ROC school was in Newport, RI so I got to see another part of the country. I also got my first plane ride to Providence where I caught a bus to Newport. My buddy Ed "Sonny" Denson had finished college that spring and gone to Air Force flight school. Not to be outdone, I decided I would become a Naval Aviator. While there, I caught a bus to Boston and visited my cousin Catherine (Richmond) Turner in Billerica for a weekend. Her husband was an Air Force pilot. When he heard I wanted to become a Navy flyer, he lined up a C45 and flew me back to Newport on Sunday and even let me take the controls. I was hooked! I finished my training and graduated with the promise of a commission when I finished college.
My extra semester was uneventful. I finished in January, and went home to await my call to active duty.
Joe Reeves - College Years - 1950-1955