Promoting My Novel
Unless I get hit by a bus on the way to campus today, at the moment this blog is published (12:06 p.m. EDT), I will be speaking to the Roanoke College Elderscholar(SM) group about My Mother’s Friend. (Wish me luck—it’s my first PowerPoint presentation!) It’s a “hybrid” event, with seventy-five in-person attendees and perhaps thirty watching online from home. We’ll meet in the Wortmann Ballroom in the Colket Center, and a delicious lunch will be served after my lecture and Q&A session. (I’m confident our lunch will be delicious because I’ve consumed many delicious meals on this campus over the past twenty-seven years.) Joe will take pictures, and if any are worthy, I might share some of them on Facebook in day or two.
This is my second presentation in two months. (Not bad for someone who isn’t yet published.) In July, I was invited to participate in the National D-Day Memorial’s Virtual Book Club panel discussion. (If you’re interested, it’s still available on their Facebook page and YouTube channel—look for July 27th.) I had about fifteen minutes to talk about my book and my “author journey,” and I joined the Memorial’s John Long and two other regional authors, Robin Traywick Williams and K.L. Jaberg, in the Q&A segment at the end. It was a lot of fun, and it offered me at least a modicum of confidence for today’s adventure.
Roanoke College’s Elderscholar(SM) Program, sponsored by the college’s Office of Community Programs, is the region’s premiere life-long learning opportunity for adults aged fifty-five and older. (I fit right in!) It was developed in the fall of 1984 as a spin-off of the national Elderhostel program. Classes for participants are provided on campus during the fall and spring semesters, and occasionally, regional, national, and international travel experiences are arranged. Lecturers include Roanoke College faculty and others who have something interesting to offer. I am honored to be considered and involved today.
As I’m sure you can appreciate, World War II had a profound impact on American institutions of higher education, and Roanoke College, in Salem, Virginia, was no exception. Soon after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, four faculty and two staff members were called up for active duty. And that was just the beginning.
In the fall of 1942, a total of 370 students enrolled at Roanoke College. That number included a record high forty-six female students. (By comparison, in the fall of 1943, there were 115 women and fifty men enrolled at the college, plus a unit of Naval Aviation cadets.) The U.S. Army paid the college to house thirty air corps soldiers on campus that fall. Additionally, eighty-eight male students were involved in a reserve officer training program sponsored by the Navy, the Army, and the Marine Corps. When these students completed the program, they were automatically enlisted in their respective branches of service.
Of course, the Roanoke College campus was a prime destination for armed services recruiters. I’m sure the college administration was torn when they saw those white vans and trailers pull up in front of the gymnasium. They knew it meant they’d lose students, but they were also very supportive of the war effort. It was the reality of the times.
In 1942, campus sports became more important than ever. Due to federal and state government requests, the college mandated that every student should participate in at least one sport. Their choices were football, basketball, handball, swimming, and calisthenics. The Maroons were able to field a football team that fall. Despite the limited number of available players and the lack of participation by other schools, they managed to play four games. Their only home game took place during a scaled-back version of Homecoming. Fall 1942 would be the college’s last football season.
All during the war, The Roanoke Collegian, a quarterly magazine published for alumni and friends of the college, provided this “Roll of Honor” in each issue. Over 1,100 Roanoke College alumni, both men and women, served in the military during World War II. Thirty-five died in service to their country, and four remained missing in action at the war's end.
In his “President’s Page” column in the March 1943 issue of The Roanoke Collegian, President Charles J. Smith penned these words at the conclusion of that column: “We are not discouraged; we are full of hope.” Later that year, he wrote: “If Uncle Sam wants our boys to fight the battles of humanity’s destiny . . . we surrender them with a twitch in our hearts and a tear in our eyes, hoping and praying that they may be kept in safety and in honor to rejoin us in more peaceful times.”
I’m sure the war years were a challenging time to be the president of a small private liberal arts college. President Smith, Roanoke College Class of 1901 (and affectionately known as “Doctor Charlie,”) seemed to be up to the task, though. He retired in 1949 after 29 years at the college’s helm.
Blessings to all.
Many thanks to Mark and Linda Miller for their assistance in preparing today’s blog.
Permission has been granted for one time use of images from The Roanoke Collegian and the Roanoke College Archives World War II photo collection.
Sally Jameson Bond is retired and lives in Southwest Virginia with her husband and two dogs. My Mother’s Friend is her first novel. You can find her web site here: www.sallyjamesonbond.com.www.sallyjamesonbond.com.