Wednesday, June 1, 2011
A Storm Cellar, a Cancelled Graduation, and a Do-Over
In 1970, my husband and I still lived in Levelland, about twenty miles west of Lubbock. We had two young children at the time. In that year, I was to graduate from Texas Tech University. Yes, I was a late-bloomer, waiting until I was almost thirty to finish college.
I had bought my black disposable cap and gown for the ceremony in the university coliseum. However, a week before the ceremony, the night of terror struck us. The storms were so horrible, and we did not have radar nor did we have good radio reception for someone to inform us we were in danger. We had a concrete storm cellar in our back yard—it was there when we bought the small house. Not once had we used it, being afraid of going down there and closing the heavy cast-iron door.
The next day, in calm weather, we learned that Lubbock had been hit by an F4 tornado, and it was possibly a double one, as two had criss-crossed the city. We felt horrible for the town and the people.
I received a letter with a note that graduation had been canceled because the coliseum would be used for refugees. My cap and gown went into a drawer. A few weeks later, I received my diploma in the mail with an embossed letter from the university president. "Dear 1970 Graduate, I confer your degree upon you, etc." So, that's how I graduated.
I did not attend. It seemed like a lot of trouble, but I read the articles about it afterward and viewed photos. Wasn't it lovely for the university to do that? I was pleased that at least I had been invited.
One more note. The Class of 1970 was the first one with the distinction of graduating from "Texas Tech University." Before that, the college was "Texas Technological College." I was very proud of that fact.
Celia Yeary-Romance...and a little bit 'o Texas