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Tuesday, February 3, 2004
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Defining Moments

History isn't just written on the pages of books and newspapers; it's also watched through the mind's eye. Ohio University alumni remember days in the University's past by way of dreams fulfilled, fears realized, friendships established and lessons learned. Ohio Today asked alumni from various eras to share recollections of their years as students. Read one account of college experiences, lifelong friendships, memories of war and civil unrest, and passages into adulthood.

"... a small trunk and one suitcase ..."

By Mabel Townsend Boetticher, ELED '25, BSED '30

Mabel BoetticherAt the age of 17 in the year of 1923, I was on a train with a small trunk and one suitcase headed for Ohio University. It was my first time away from home, and I was on my way to fulfilling my dream: a college education.

My new home was Lindley Hall. I had only $350 for everything I'd need for one year. I was assisted by a kind house mother, interested advisers and other help as needed. I went to see Dean Irma Voigt and was impressed by her interest in me.

The social life was not much. I had no money or time for parties. A highlight for me was to be able to afford a ham sandwich from the Spot (they delivered to the dorm every evening).

I made many friends and had enough money, so I was able to get a teaching certificate. There were no jobs in Athens, but one teacher asked me to grade papers at 50 cents an hour.

I then taught three years in Jackson, Ohio, enough to get a Life Certificate. I also saved $1,000 for my next two years toward a degree. In 1930, I returned to Ohio University and received a bachelor of education degree with high honors.

The graduation ceremonies were outside -- really impressive.

I remember the many times, especially on Sundays, that we walked around the beautiful grounds of the Athens Mental Hospital.

The physical education program was one of my favorites. I participated in all sports. My favorites were tennis (I played in the finals one year) and swimming. I became a Red Cross Life Saver and later saved two lives. I even learned to bowl at OU and earned a sweater. (My highest score since then has been 212.)

I remember trying to keep up with the fashions. One year skirts went up; the next year they were to our ankles. Of course, there were no slacks or shorts.

My English literature professor encouraged me to write poetry. I have authored a book of verses on true old times called "Read and Reminisce." I also have written many essays for Women's Club contests (I won several times, once in a state contest).

I did not become famous, but I am well-known in my community for my work with children.

When I graduated from Ohio University, I had high hopes of success. Now, at the age of 97-plus, most of my hopes have been realized. One big factor in my wonderful life was that I met my husband, Irwin Boetticher, at OU. He is gone now, but I have a daughter, four grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren.

The last time I was at Ohio University to visit, probably about 40 years ago, I couldn't believe the new buildings.

It's hard to believe how much Ohio University has grown. It's a wonderful school, and my best wishes are for it to be one of the finest and still grow on to be the greatest. Signing off after 80 years.

Mabel Townsend Boetticher lives in Adena, Ohio. A retired teacher, she taught all grades and even worked in a one-room school. She was a Girl Scout leader and then a 4-H adviser for 25 years and taught Bible school and Sunday school. She has been a member of the Women's Club of Adena for 65 years and volunteered at Harrison Community Hospital for several years. She also was a director of minstrels and, as she has for 54 years, continues to do a Minnie Pearl imitation for Lions Club minstrel shows.

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