Alumni Stories

Basic Studies

By Bill Jones

Basic Studies - Fall 59 by Bill Jones ('63)

When I arrived at Indian Springs, as a ninth grader from Talladega, Alabama, I didn't know anyone. I discovered in the first thirty minutes or so that I didn't even know the language! If I had ever heard "those word!?' before, it was always in the context: "We don't use those words!" Now, my suite mates were using them in every sentence... as verbs, nouns, adjectives, adverbs... and I couldn't even figure out how they were supposed to go in a sentence! I was one home-sick little boy.

The next day our entire class gathered in one classroom, along with several teachers and "Doc', for something called Basic Studies. Doc gave us our first assignment: to (1) introduce ourselves, (2) say where we were from, and (3) say what we thought the difference was between 'The Actual" and 'The Ideal". Now there's a question they never asked me at Dixon Junior High School! I was one of the first to go. I said, 'My name is Bill Jones and I'm from Talladega, Alabama, and," now I was on shakier ground, "I guess the Actual is what really is and the Ideal is what could be" (or words to that effect.)

Then I looked at Doc to see how I had done- Doc had a look an his face that I could only interpret as "That's the dumbest thing I ever heard." He looked confused, as if he were thinking, "How did we let HIM in our great school?"

Then he said, "What did you say ... your name was?" Now I was really in table. I thought that was the easy part "Bill Jones" I said. He said, 'I don't see a Bill Jones, on the list of freshmen. I see a George Jones from Talladega." I said, "That's me." "Why do they call you BilI?" he asked. "My whole name is George William Jones", I explained. "How do they get Bill out of that?"' he asked. and I explained, "Bill is short for William, I think."' Doc said, 'Oh." And from that day on for 4 years, every time he spoke to me, he called me...Fred." The man was clearly a genius, but names were apparently not his strong suit.

The rest of the class introduced themselves and said more or less what I had said about the "Actual and the Ideal" ... and when we were done, Doc announced that we would be exploring that question for the next four years. I knew I wasn't in Talladega any more.

Basic Studies - Fall 59 by Bill Jones ('63)