New Mexico State at Las Cruces
1957-1958 Ray's college freshman year was spent at New Mexico A&M, now New Mexico State at Las Cruces. His brother was a student at New Mexico A&M. There was a college in Alpine where he graduated high school and where his Dad was a professor. He indicated that, like most kids, he wanted to get out of the house and somewhat be on his own like his big brother. He received a band scholarship from New Mexico A&M and worked at various jobs on campus for extra money. He would make the rounds to the junk stores for old electrical appliances, rebuild them and re-sell them. He states that his studies did not seem that important to him. He was known to have the nicest, most modern, dorm room on campus. He said that if he had a nice fancy place to live, he might get interested in studying.
Even though his parents were teachers, he remembers that grades were very seldom talked about. Plus, he thought that he was an extremely poor reader. He said he did not read a book from cover to cover until he finished 39 hours of graduate school.
Besides being in the band his freshman year in college, Ray was a member of the Air Force ROTC Drill Team.
After his poor performance in grades his freshman year, his Dad said,
"If you are not going to study, and make your grades, you might as well live at home and go up to the college with me."
His sophomore year, he studied photography, business and chemistry. Tom said, ^
"I took two chemistry classes from Dad and he flunked me on both."
Dad said, "Son, try something else".
University of Arkansas, in Fayetteville
Summer of 1958: During the summers, Ray's Dad attended different colleges to study towards his Master's Degree in Chemistry. Tom traveled with the family. In the summer of 1958, Tom took a class in public speaking at the University of Arkansas, in Fayetteville. He says today,
"Give me a hundred-thousand people in a stadium and at the end of the my speech, I will have
them on their feet screaming for more."
Big Bend National Park
The summer of 1959, Tom worked waiting tables at the Big Bend National Park restaurant in what was called The Basin. The park concession company primarily hired young college kids for the rush months of summer. That is where he meet his first wife, Marna Emley. She is from Indiana and was to be a senior at Anderson University in Anderson, Indiana. After the summer courtship, Tom followed her to Indiana and in May of 1960, she graduated and they were married in August.
Anderson University in Indiana
During Tom's junior year in Indiana, he worked as the drummer in dance bands, a board marker at Thomson McKinnon Securities, and had an after school job as the wood shop instructor at the local boys club. At the end of his junior year, during the summer before he married, he worked much like a migrant farm field hand picking tomatoes. He took the job because he made friends with a migrant farm worker with six kids. He wanted to help out. He soon found work on the automobile assembly line at Fisher Body in Marion, Indiana. He said,
"I like to help people but I had to make enough money before the summer ended so I could get married and get back to
Texas and finish my degree."
Sul Ross State University, Alpine Texas
His senior year at Sul Ross, now married, Tom purchased, from an elderly gentleman, a vintage Graflex Speed Graphic 4 x 5 press camera, a complete set of darkroom equipment and supplies, all for seventy-five dollars. He started supplementing his income by taking, developing and selling photographs. His darkroom was in his 36 x 48 inch hot water heater closet in his college married-housing apartment. He said,
"To develop the pictures in my mini-darkroom, I had only about one and one-half square feet of standing floor space. I stood in one spot, exposed the photographic paper with the enlarger, pivoted 90 degrees while standing in the same spot, put the exposed photographic paper in the chemical developer, pivoted around another 90 degrees while standing in the same spot, put the developed picture in the stop-bath developing chemical, pivoted around another 90 degrees in the same spot and put the picture in the fixer-chemical. After the picture stabilized, fixed for a period of time, I would wash the photos in the bathtub. After they were washed, I put them on a heated ferrotype plate print dryer which causes the picture to have that glossy look. Bingo, a professional photograph. I was getting so much business, I recall one day, the local professional photographer in town asked me what I was up to."
Tom's new wife, now a college graduate, worked at the Texas State Highway Department for fifty cents an hour. When Tom needed a haircut, he would go up to the college where a student barber would give haircuts in his dorm room for seventy-five cents. Tom made a deal to exchange one fresh hot home-made apple pie made by his wife for a hair cut. The cost of the pie ingredients worked out to be about thirty five cents. Tom said,
"After that first pie exchange haircut, I walked out the door, I heard the door close behind me and the door lock click. Later, the student barber told me that he and his roommate ate that whole pie in one sitting."
In addition to that, Tom continued to play in different dance bands, and worked at the local drug store for seventy-five cents an hour. He graduated with a General Business degree and his first job was working for Halliburton in the oil patch in West Texas, driving an 18 wheeler cement pump truck. His aunt from Midland, Texas had some oil people connections and she got him that job. He said,
"I have a college degree. Now I am qualified to drive a truck for a living."
St. Mary's University, San Antonio, Texas
While an officer in the Air Force at Lackland AFB, he went to St. Mary's University at night to work toward a Master's degree in Business Management and Marketing. There Tom accumulated 39 graduate hours toward a Master's.