As written earlier, my goal in life after graduating from college was to get my Master's degree so that I could teach Theatre at Anderson College or some other Christian school. In order to do that, I decided on going to Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, TX. Why not go to a university that had an MFA program? Both of my parents went there, and I was a legacy. Also, I felt that God was calling me there.
I saved up my money from working at Belk, and I got a car. It got to be May, 1976. I quit my job at Belk, even though they wanted me to stay. I loaded up my car with my records, stereo, clothes, and started my journey to Ft. Worth. I had a map from AAA of the optimum route. It was a little over 1000 miles to get there. My car had a radio, but I brought along an 8-track tape player that ran on batteries. I had to replace them each day on my trip, because the player ate the batteries.
I was not in any hurry to get out there, as this was the first trip that I would drive by myself for a long distance, so I decided to break it up. I left Columbia with the love of my parents and drove as far as Selma, AL. I actually wanted to stop in Montgomery at a motel, but I got in the wrong lane on the bypass and found myself on the road to Selma. I had not been there since 1968, when my parents and I were on our way to Houston, TX. I remembered we stopped at a restaurant and heard that Otis Redding had died. I found a motel on the outskirts of town to stop for the night. The motel had in-room movies playing on the TV. I had never seen that before. That was cool. I stayed there on subsequent trips.
My back hurt from all of that driving, but I got up the next morning and continued my journey. When I got to Mississippi, I found that I-20 was a little different. There were flowers along the highway, and the color of the asphalt changed in increments. I figured it was their way of keeping one from falling asleep with the monotony on the road. I think more states should do that. I drove across the state, and my back was killing me, so I stopped in Vicksburg for the next night. My motel was near the Civil War battlefield, so I had a relaxing time walking around there, and being near the river. Old Man River. The mighty Mississip.
The next day, I got up more rested to continue on. I drove through my home state of Louisiana on my way to Texas. I got to Shreveport and noticed something quite weird. There were lush forests on the Louisiana side, but crossing over into Texas was quite different. There were no lush forests. There was flat land with no trees except for shrubs. It was as though I had gone into another world. I had. I drove on a very boring stretch of I-20 that didn't want to seem to end. Mile after mile of nothing. I finally had to stop. I saw a sign that said Tyler and motels, so I exited the highway and drove some more, before finding Tyler, TX. I stopped for the night at a Ramada. Apparently, there was some festival in town, so the only room they had was under the bandstand of their ballroom. All I wanted was a bed. I took it, but I didn't get much sleep that night.
I got up the next morning and headed onto Ft. Worth. When I got to Dallas, I had Janis Joplin blaring on the tape player. There was a bridge that curved over a highway. I was looking at the skyline and jamming to the music, and I wasn't paying attention to where I was going. I almost crashed off of the bridge along the curve. That woke me up. I finally got to Ft. Worth and the seminary.
After unpacking, I wanted to go downtown to check out the city. I saw a crowd standing on the street, so I wanted to see what was going on. The crowd was standing across from a bank, and there were a lot of policemen around there. It looked like there had been a robbery. Then, I found out what was really going on. A man had walked into the bank with a shotgun. He killed his girlfriend, who was a teller. He then shot himself in the head with the gun. His body was lying on the floor of the bank with a sheet over it, and a blood spot where his head had been. The tourist folders never talked about crime in Ft. Worth. My first day was welcomed to this sight. Welcome to Ft. Worth.