Faculty Wife | Part 3
Fall 1969. Sometimes you just do what needs to be done. We landed in a deeply Southern South at a time when it seemed the USA was falling apart. We left behind a rather freestyle Northeastern city for a Bible College that runs things ‘by the book.’ That would be various campus rule books, plus unrecorded assumptions and expectations about the behavior of students and staff.
D and I weren’t intentional troublemakers. It’s just that we’d outgrown our Bible College conformity and gentility. We didn’t do it on purpose, as though we were trying to trash our past. We were just living our lives. Children of our times, yet unchanged in our Christian faith commitments.
So here we are back at the Bible College. D recently began teaching. He isn’t a meticulous dresser, but he’s always neat and open to color combination consultations with me. He likes to look nice, and he’s nice to look at! He doesn’t, however, like to call undue attention to himself.
Unfortunately, when D arrived on campus, he was given little if any instruction about professorial garb. Perhaps they thought he would remember from his student days what to wear when he taught?
One day D came home in a mood. He isn’t normally a moody person. Nonetheless, when he’s unhappy, he doesn’t pretend everything is fine just fine. And it wasn’t.
An administrator had kindly informed him, quietly, that as a professor at the Bible College he must wear a tie in the classroom. Why? Who knows. But D wasn’t happy about this. This wasn’t just about making sure students knew he was the professor.
After pondering this, I offered to make him a new tie. I love to sew, and I’d seen some pretty smart ties out there. We might save ourselves a bit of that faculty allowance money that seemed to run out quickly. And he could pick the fabric!
We went downtown to the JC Penney store to look at fabrics. Behold! There it was! Featured in the Sewing Notions Department. Even better, right beside that lovely design was another bolt of material that would also work as a tie. I would make him two ties, and he could alternate them!
I picked out a tie pattern (skinny was out, medium fat ties were in), went home and went to work on D’s new professorial garb. What you see at the top of this post still hangs proudly with his other ties. The second tie was a similar fabric and color scheme, but it was just big bare human footprints, also a bit in your face. Definitely not a formal look for a tie.
I can’t tell you how happy and excited I was to make these ties. A little apprehensive, but not much. I was sorry I wasn’t a fly on the wall the first day D walked in wearing his new tie. This was a Faculty Wife moment I’d never dreamed of having.
Make love not war? Of course! Who wouldn’t want it that way?
Actually, there are two 3-letter words on the tie. Each capable of causing distress. Sex (spelled ‘Make Love’), and War. In addition to nation-wide protests against the Viet Nam War, there were all those free-love counter-culture movements and events like Woodstock encouraging rule-breaking and questioning authority.
Did anyone tell D his new tie was inappropriate? No. At least some of the students loved it! Some staff members probably did, too, but they weren’t as open in their responses. Better to just savor the moment quietly, and hope Professor D gets over it someday soon? This, of course, is not in D’s nature.
D was now on notice. Not about his teaching and not about his character. This was about outward signs of submission to authority. One of the chief ways the Bible College measured loyalty and commitment to the program, if not to God.
To be continued….
© Elouise Renich Fraser, 31 July 2015
Photo credit: DAFraser, July 2015