Starting with a laugh

Robert Valentine Senior lecturer in advertising

Column by Robert Valentine, Senior lecturer of advertising.

Welcome to Week One of the 92nd year of Fun and Required Attendance in Murray, the Friendliest Town in Calloway County.

The first classes held at Murray Normal School were actually held at the city High School on Main Street on Sept. 24, 1923. When President J. W. Carr arrived in Murray that year, he found there were no paved streets in the town, but there were a lot of very friendly people.

The people are still friendly, the streets have been paved, the University has its own classroom buildings, but there’s still no bypass. Come back in another 92 years.

The people who come here in 2015 seeking a college education will pay a heavy price for that valuable growth in knowledge and understanding.

For four years, they will not earn as much as they might if they went right to work in construction, food services or truck driving. Want fries with that?

During those four years, many people will run up a good little bill with a bank or lending agency which will keep them from buying a house until they are well into their 30s – if they are very lucky.

College comes with costs.

At the same time, college is a place for invaluable fun and discovery.

Things like concerts (with musicians who can play instruments other than drums and guitar), plays and lectures often come free of charge.

If you pay attention, you will learn how to shorten meetings (valuable life skill), make friends (real ones who can bail you out – not virtual ones who suddenly won’t return text messages) and have fun.

College is serious business; let’s try to change that.

The really fun things would not sound very exciting if I described them.

They won’t sound like much when you tell your grandkids about them either.

But they will be some of the best times of your life – mostly because they are in stark contrast to what you’ve been doing all week: the hard work of learning, creating, remembering and solving.

You will do these fun things with people who will very likely become the best friends you will ever have.

This is true, in part, because they are going through the same trials as you.

You will have shared anguish and confusion, so the sharing of relief and respite is just as intense a joy as the tough part was tough.

Some people never have that much fun again in their lives.

So, no matter how serious this place may seem at times, it should also be a time of great joy, huge smiles, warm feelings and big laughs.

The knowledge will get you a job. The laughs will get you a life.

Look at this poem as a literary assignment; then look at it as a toast to the future.

Here’s to you, young student, from all of us.

Laugh [verb; intransitive]

To laugh for no good reason;

To laugh because you remember;

To laugh because you forgot.

Laughter keeps out the cold;

Keeps warm the fires of friendship;

Keeps bright the hope of reunion.

We may forget the joke;

We may forget the story;

We will never forget the laughter.

– F. O. Williamson