I was sending letters of interest to all the colleges and universities I knew in the United States trying to find a teaching job. I got back letters from most of the schools saying no. But, in late July of 1979, I got an offer from a college for me to come see them.
It was Blue Mountain College in Mississippi. They wanted me to come see them, and they would pay for my airfare to fly out there. I had to fly into Memphis, and the academic dean would meet me and drive me to the school. Blue Mountain was an all-girl college and affiliated with the Baptists. They had heard about me and wanted my expertise there. It was a win-win for both of us. I would have a job, and they would have me.
After I got picked up at the airport by the dean, he drove about two hours to get to the school. It was beautiful. There were mountains around (hence the name), and the air was cool in mid-summer. The dean put me up in his house, which was not far from the school. In fact, everything was not far from the school, as it was a little town. The college was the town. I was first amazed at the fact that the dean didn't lock the door to his house, when we left. I made a comment about that, and he told me that there was no crime in the community, and everyone left their doors unlocked. He said the only situation they had ever had was a guy passing through town years before and was hungry, so he went into a house looking for food. He only took some food and left. It was like being in Mayberry.
He took me over to the college and showed me around. Even though it was summertime, there were some students on campus. They seemed friendly. I also met some of the faculty. They seemed nice. This was going to be the perfect fit for me. The dean took me over to see the theatre. It was in an old building, but I could work with it. He also showed me where my office would be, and the textbooks I would be using. He even showed me where I would be living. He really did a good job selling the college to me. My last visit there was a meeting with the president of the college. He had to sign off on me, before I was to be hired. We had a nice chat, although he told me one thing he expected of me that I had a hard time with doing. He wanted me to direct a musical once a year. I had done a musical in college, and knew how hard it was to coordinate the drama department with the music department. A lot of egos. The president told me that the community expected a musical, so I told him that I would work with him on it. I thought that once I got established that I could do the productions I wanted to do.
So, after a weekend with those folks, the dean took me back to Memphis to get on a plane and fly back to South Carolina. He told me that it would be soon before he would call me and let me know when to move out there. I thanked him, and got on the plane. When I got back, I was confident that I had the job. Two weeks went by, and I had not heard from them I knew it was getting close to school starting, so I called them. I didn't want to sound anxious, but I just needed to know. The dean told me they had decided to go with someone else. Okay, I was a big boy. I knew I was not the only fish in the sea. But, I was perplexed. Why did they say I was the one, and then I wasn't? So, I did some checking. It turned out that they wanted to check with the seminary to see if there was anything that would prevent them from hiring me. A man in the administration told them that I was a troublemaker, and related to them about the witch hunt that occurred during my last semester.
When I was going to Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, I was told that I could go anywhere in the world with a degree from there. That is true, although one cannot get hired anywhere in the world with a degree from there. I discovered that I could not get a favorable recommendation from the seminary, where I had gotten my Master's degree. The seminary where I had created the Communications major. The seminary where I had spent two years of my life there. It was all for naught, or so I believed at the time. Blue Mountain didn't want to reimburse me for the plane trip out there, and I had to beg them to do so. The president reluctantly agreed to pay me back. I knew I had to go a different direction in my life, and teaching in a college was not on my radar anymore.
I did entertain an option to teach drama in a high school, instead of college, but I found that my courses in seminary would only translate to states where there were other Baptist seminaries--Texas, North Carolina, Louisiana, Kentucky, Missouri, or California. Otherwise, I would have to start all over again and take Education courses at a school in South Carolina. I was unwilling to do that. So, I did get certified to teach in public schools in Charlotte, but I never followed up on that. I also took the teacher's exam in South Carolina and was given a provisional certificate, but it expired two weeks later, so I didn't pursue that. I have taught a little since to high schoolers, which will be covered later in my stories, but for now the teaching job door had closed for me. Another was soon to open.