On How I Escaped the Grasp of the Gestapo!

S. Jay Smith, June, 1996
Junior Year at UGA

Scene: Psychology 101 . .UGA . . Always wanted to take a course in psychology, because it was supposed to be easy and I thought it would be fun. So I slip into the classroom and find that the course is taught by TV, with no instructor, consequently, the room is a little dark. As I enter, I notice a slender, blond girl, with a cute nose. I dare to sit by her, and even ask her if she knows about the class instructor. I perceive a winning smile and an energetic laugh. In 35 seconds, I am totally in love! I think she is gorgeous! Her name is Judy White. In class, we exchange millions of funny notes because there is no instructor. We write so many notes that we even run out of paper, and have to borrow paper from the other students! Later, we begin dating. On the first date, I keep calling her Carol because I had two previous girlfriends by that name totally embarrassing for me but she thought it was funny and sometimes said that Carol was gone when I called! We drove for thousands of miles in my light blue Triumph convertible. Once, I was going very fast and went over a huge bump her head smashed into the top of the car since I had the top up! So, I had to apologize for driving too fast!

During the bitterly cold winter quarter, we go to a party on a Saturday Night. At UGA there were two types of parties, "legal" and "illegal." The only distinction was that a legal party had been registered and a generous number of chaperones were present. The party we went to was illegal and therefore more fun! I picked Judy up at Sewell Hall and off we went. In those days, the girl had to enter the name of her date into a register. We arrived about 8:00 in an old, rambling house with many rooms. There were tons of people there and cars were parked everywhere, I had to drive a couple of blocks away just to park. We had a lot of fun and everything went great until 11:00 p.m. sharp. Then, loud knocks were heard OPEN UP CAMPUS POLICE. Pandemonium erupted! People jumped out of windows, hid under beds, ran out doors and generally tried to avoid the Gestapo! I could not find Judy! So I ran to the basement, covered myself with some old plywood and lay still as the wicked Gestapo searched every inch of the house for victims! I nearly froze to death! I was worried terribly about Judy and whether she had been caught. I knew she had to get back to the dorm by midnight or there was going to be big trouble! Finally , I could hear no more searching, so I threw off the old plywood, and cautiously exited the back door of the basement in my dusty disguise. After finding the Triumph, I drove back to my apartment, completely exhausted and frozen. I drove around the area at 1-2 a.m. but could find no one.

Early Sunday morning, I awoke in a panic! I called the dorm and Judy was in! Somehow, she had avoided the Gestapo, found a ride, and arrived at the dorm before midnight. BUT, the really neat thing she had done was to erase my name from the register before the Gestapo reviewed the records! Therefore, there was no evidence that I was anywhere near the illegal party, even if they had traced her. I figured I was home free.

Days later, I learn that even though the Gestapo had interviewed hundreds of students, my name was apparently never mentioned because no one present knew me other than Judy. This was quite important. Within a week, however, I receive an official letter stating that I am summoned to a personal audience with Dean Tate, Dean of Men at the UGA Campus. The letter claims that my vehicle was positioned suspiciously close to an illegal party. I was to offer up a reasonable explanation as to why my car had been there or it would be assumed that I was a willing participant at said party and punished accordingly!

A description of the Dean is in order: Dean Tate was a huge beast of a man with penetrating eyes it was rumored that he ate students for breakfast! Not a man to be trifled with.

Fortunately, I had an entire week to prepare my criminal defense, if not I would have been surely doomed. So how could I fool the all-knowing Dean of Men? First, I drove back to the area and found out who lived nearby. Ha! I found that I had a friend within two blocks of the very address of the party location. Such friends can be useful in times of distress! This friend was willing to state unequivocally that I had been at his pad on the very Saturday night of the party! How fortunate! And possibly useful in my defense! But I wanted more evidence in my behalf. I next asked Judy if she had learned about folks that HAD attended the party and wrote down all of these facts she gave me. A discernable pattern arose, practically every attendee had majored in a "soft" subject, e.g., art, drama, fencing, basket weaving, etc. BUT, to my great advantage, I was a MATH major. Another glimmer of hope. Why would a studious MATH major be associating with lowly types such as these? Good question. I certainly didn't think one would -- and I was hoping that Dean Tate would agree!

On the appointed day, I arose exceptionally early and dressed extremely conservatively. I mentally steeled myself and entered the dungeon of the esteemed Dean Tate, having prepared my defense as carefully as possible. I was in a confident but apprehensive mood. Upon intense questioning, I produced the critical signed affidavit noting that I was at a entirely different location during the hours of 8-11 on the identical Saturday night of said illegal party. This document was studied and quickly disregarded. Now for my second and final line of defense. I brought up the issue of majoring in the demanding discipline of mathematics, whilst the other attendees were of an entirely different flavor. At this statement, I noted a raised eyebrow Dean Tate was apparently an old math major. So this argument seemed to impress him. He could certainly agree that no highbrow MATH major would associate with mere DRAMA majors and the like, would they? Of course not! Having completely swallowed this impressive argument, Dean Tate signed an important paper stating that I was not at said highly illegal party. I was free to leave the dungeon with my skin intact! I exited the building with a great deal of respect for Dean Tate and even higher respect for myself!

EPILOG: Judy and I dated off and on for a long time. I saw her in graduate school a couple of times, then no more. Years later, I recognized her in a grocery store in Atlanta on Highland Avenue! We talked for a while and even called each other a couple of times. But I have lost track of her since then. The psychology 101 course was a breeze and I made an A+! I have often thought that I should have called the dean, after a suitable interval of time 10-20 years and explained how I fooled him! I believe that he, in retrospect, would have been proud of the numerous skills of a math major!

S. Jay Smith, June, 1996


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