Once Upon a House (2)…College Daze

There was never any doubt I would go to college.
There was never any real doubt where I would go to college: Austin.

Once out of high school, I enrolled at the University of Texas and moved back to Austin, the town where I was born.  I was lucky my family could pay for my schooling, and I knew better than to bypass the opportunity. Besides, I had been visiting my older brother in Austin my last 2 years in high school, and was chomping at the bit to get out of the house and live independently — in Austin.
doodle: Austin-college-daze-houses I lived in

    • Moore-Hill Dorm — My folks made it clear that they would only pay for off-campus rent after I spent a year in a dorm. Neither the newest nor oldest dorm, our all-male Moore-Hill Hall, at least featured air conditioning.
      I had a roommate, of course, matched together, no doubt, for our mutual love of movies. I wanted to make them and he already had an encyclopedic knowledge of all the movies I would spend weekend evenings seeing on campus, catching up. He also had a tiny black & white TV which he let me use to watch Star Trek reruns,  even though he hated the series. Columbo was his show. He did a passably good imitation, and even sported a rumpled trenchcoat.
      BTW: that roommate, Michael Barker, went on to co-found Sony Classic Pictures. Yeah, you’ve seen a few of his movies. Unless you’ve looked at the Casa Dexter channel on YouTube, though, chances are you haven’t seen any of mine.


    • Thistle — Once I’d moved to Austin for college, I never really moved back to the Old Home Place. With freshman year over, I moved into the rent house my brother and his friends were leaving. Along with 3 friends — all named Mike — we took over. The house was a slightly ramshackle, old tract house, basically identical in layout to the neighboring houses — except all of the interior angles in this house seemed to be slightly off, closer to 85 or 95 degrees than the standard 90. “That wall’s not straight,” friends would say after a few minutes sitting in the living room. “Well, neither are you,” was the standard response.
      I moved into the converted garage out back, the biggest room of all, where I had to walk out my door and in the back door to go to the bathroom. I didn’t care: the roof was flat, so with a ladder, I could listen to music over headphones on an extension cord while sitting on the roof.
      Life was good on the cheap at the “Thistle House for Run-Amucks.” We were miles from campus but the shuttle bus ran nearby, so getting to classes was no issue. Paying rent on time, now that was an issue that first summer. Maybe I ‘ll tell you some of Thistle stories later, about the fireworks, turkey feasts, the 3 labradors…and the pig. Yeah, there’s a few stories to be told from the Thistle days. And quite a few that likely will not be told here.
      You’ll have to buy me a beer sometime if you want to hear those stories.


    • Bluff Springs Road — Just as I was settling into Thistle, my brother persuaded me to move out to the country with him. Well, it was really more like the “boonies.” We were not quite out in the country, but definitely out of town, especially way back then. Heading out our way, you left the highway and passed a sloppily hand-painted sign that read, “You are what you throw out the window — DON’T LITTER!” and down a winding road to a lane of rent houses by a creek that ran under a towering limestone bluff. We lived in the last house on the lane. I spent hours wandering the acreage atop the bluff, but also spent a lot of time just sitting around, enjoying the quiet isolation of life in the boonies. This is where I met Jim Nelson, an incredible artist who would become a life-long friend.
      I had transportation difficulties the whole time I lived out there, since I had no vehicle of my own and needed to attend classes back in town. Scott had assured me that I could use his car whenever I needed, but that didn’t always work out. Friends who lived nearby, Candy & Beth, could give me rides into campus some days, and sometimes, I just slept over on the couch back at Thistle before catching a ride back later in the week.
      I spent a brief couple of seasons out in the boonies before returning to Thistle.


    • Thistle reprise —Life in the boonies drained my meager coffers, and I needed cheaper rent. I started working at Nothing Strikes Back, the world’s only black-light ice cream parlor, another reason to move back to town. In my absence at Thistle, a high school buddy of ours, Duane (aka “Ace”) had moved into my old room with his girlfriend, Cheryl. In fact, all the rooms were rented out when I moved back in, so I paid to live on the couch till a room opened up at the end of the semester.

    • Jacque’s front room — 2 years after first moving in at Thistle, the household had dwindled down to just 2 of us paying rent, an untenable situation. As summer drifted into the fall semester — my final undergraduate one — I moved into the front room of a small place near campus rented by a co-worker whom I had a huge crush on, Jacqueline. I spent a couple of months there desperately trying to slip into her heart — and her room.
      Alas, it was not to be…


    • 18th Street loft — Once again, I had to move, and once again, wanted to stay close to campus. Some friends had previously discovered a set of loft houses clustered around a center driveway off 18th Street, and rehabbed one enough to move in. They moved out eventually, and Lon and Rory had moved in, so I joined them.
      The loft layout was definitely cool but had one major drawback: no sound separation whatsoever for any of us. This didn’t matter most of the time — just on weekday mornings. Lon had a surveying class that meet at 7am, 5 days a week. So, Monday through Friday, his extremely loud alarm would go off sometime about 6:30 am. It seemed even earlier after nights I worked till after midnight. Even downstairs in my room, I could clearly hear the incessant electronic beeping, and would lay there waiting for the next step in the sequence. Since Lon would still sleep through this, Rory would eventually yell, “Lon! Lon! LON!” followed by Lon’s sleepy voice asking, “Huh?” then Rory shouting ” Shut off your fucking alarm!” followed by “Oh…” and the beeping would end. Until the next morning, that is.
      Except Lon ended up heading back to Colorado before the end of the semester. Rory, too, would be returning to Colorado soon, and I was done with all my classes and ready to leave. But the 18th Street house did me good for a couple of months to finish out my final semester there at UT.

Next: Ramblin’

About bullersbackporch

I am a native Austinite, a high-tech Luddite, lover of music, movies and stories and a born trainer-explainer.
This entry was posted in anecdotes, Austin, Buller, friends, neighbors and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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