We never know which experiences will stay with us forever. One such event in my life is the first time I traveled to Cullowhee. It was the beginning of my freshman year of college, I was heading to a place I had never seen where I would spend the next four years. With those unknowns, it is surprising that I did not feel nervous or anxious. All I felt was excitement at becoming a college student!
Surprising as it may sound now, I did not know about “mountain living” which meant I knew nothing about clothes needed at college in the mountains. Quite simply, I felt the need to take everything, and that is precisely what I did! Although packing for college did not mean a tv, refrigerator, fan, computer, or some of today’s necessities; it meant clothes, shoes, sheets, blankets, towels, laundry bag, clock radio, mementos from high school, perhaps yearbooks, and possibly a portable record player with a few 45 records.
For me, taking everything meant needing a U-Haul. Knowing nothing of the effect traveling mountain roads pulling a U-Haul would have on the trip, my mother felt we needed to leave a day early and spend the night along the way. As evening approached that first day, we stopped in Waynesville for the night.
The next morning, we left Waynesville with no idea how close we were to Cullowhee. It didn’t take long before we laughed at our realization of how close Waynesville was to Cullowhee!
Traveling Cullowhee Road looking for Cullowhee, we came upon a cluster of buildings, crossed the Tuckaseigee River, saw a Gulf service station on the left, an old country store called Moss General Store on the right, a big Western Carolina sign on the left indicating we should turn right. Immediately, I discovered we were on Western’s campus! My search for Cullowhee would have to wait because my priority now was to discover my dorm. Signs directed us to turn left, traveling up a steep narrow road to the Joyner Building.
Joyner, a beautiful, old, brick three-story, ivy-covered building with steep steps leading to its entrance on the second floor, was impressive and stately, and immediately I fell in love with that building! Many students and a few cars were there along with a flurry of activity making Joyner appear as the hub of campus. Everything was exciting! I could not wait to get my freshman information packet and take the next step!
My dorm assignment was Moore, another lovely, stately, three-story building to the right and behind Joyner. We parked behind Moore. Once out of the car we were directed to the back entrance of Moore. Information was given to me included my room assignment: third floor! Upon receiving directions, away we went to check out my dorm room.
When I found my room, it was love at first sight! It was everything I hoped it would be and more! Immediately I felt at home! Upon entering, I noticed two windows across the room giving me a gorgeous view of the mountains. To the left was one twin bed, then two chests of drawers. To the right a bunk bed indicating there could be three of us in the room. That was fine because the size of the room was large enough. To the right were two spacious walk-in closets.
As soon as we unloaded the U-Haul, I unpacked and put away my things. At that time my roommates had not arrived, and I was anxious to settle into my room therefore, I staked my claim on the twin bed and the closet closest to the door and hoped my roommates would not mind.
My mother, my sister, and my niece accompanied me to Cullowhee. I was thankful and grateful for their help, but. . . once all was unloaded and put away, I was ready to explore. My mother and sister understood and since they would be traveling back to Shelby and needed to drop off the U-Haul on their way home. They left me in my dorm room, and I was fine with that.
Finally, as a college student, I wanted to become acquainted with my college, so I went for a walk. Having no idea where to go I walked along the sidewalk beside Moore leading me to another hub on campus that later I learned was the center of campus activity. While exploring the campus it warmed my heart that people I passed greeted me with a “Hello!” This campus was friendly, which helped me know I would like my “home away from home”.
Betty Allen is a WCU alum from the graduate class of 1968. She is not employed or reimbursed by the Western Carolinian for this article. Her opinions are not direct representations of the Western Carolinian or WCU.