Growing Up At Coastal
NOTE: This letter originally appeared in the 50th anniversary issue of Coastal Magazine, published in 2004.
Dear Coastal Carolina University,
I extend my heartfelt best wishes to the present and past staff, faculty, and student body of Coastal Carolina University, on the 50th anniversary of its founding.
I extend these wishes with special meaning. My father, John Anderson, was the first maintenance superintendent of the college. We moved to our home on the campus, what is now called the “Indigo House” in the fall of 1963, when Coastal was really just a bunch of stakes in the ground. I was eight years old, and we lived on campus for 10 years.
The college consisted of one building, now called the Edward M. Singleton Building, a parking lot, and our house. Everywhere else was forest. I used to walk in the woods where all the newer buildings are located now and pick the purple violets that grew plentifully there.
In the Singleton Building there was new furniture, thousands of new books, and new lab equipment, but what I remember most is the people. Everyone was young, happy, enthusiastic and working towards the new idea of building a real college.
At that time the school did not have a vehicle of its own, and my dad used his Falcon for errands. He and I went to get the mail in Conway on Sunday mornings. I liked to get the funnies out and spread them on the garnet rug in the hall of the Singleton Building. One Sunday, a package came in the mail. He opened it with is pocketknife. It contained the crown for the first Miss Coastal Carolina pageant to be held on campus. He picked me up so I could see myself in the glass window, and I put it on. I was in little girl heaven.
I made my extra money doing every imaginable odd job that needed to be done. I washed punch cups after special events, and dusted places where big hands could not reach. I babysat for teachers, and as I got older I would help give the timed tests, as this would free up the teacher and they knew that I would collect the little blue books on time and not allow anyone to cheat.
I helped with the programs and tickets for the very first theater production at the college. It was Showboat, and it marked the beginning of my love of live theater and music.
I grew up riding my bike around the horseshoe, later learning to drive and park the Falcon there – causing much anxiety to everyone who had parked their cars there!
All the children of the staff became friends and we grew up together. We listened to Jimmy Hendrix and Janis Joplin records on the cabinet stereo in the Student Lounge.
In 1968, my cousin Michael came to see us after boot camp, before he went off to Vietnam. The Conway High Football Stadium had been built adjacent to the college. Michael was allowed just a few days leave before he shipped out, and he wanted to go to his high school’s Friday night football game. We all met at my home and walked through the forest to the field. Years later, when I was in my 30s, I walked along that same route, now paved and landscaped, to see his name etched in the Traveling Wall exhibit, commemorating those killed in Vietnam, which was on display at the college. Michael was killed four months after that game. He was 19 years old.
So many memories. I love Coastal Carolina University, my childhood home.
Ms. Anderson passed away in 2014