Garland D. Bills
What a pleasant surprise to stumble on this web site. Rambling through the pages provokes a rush of memories — mostly good memories, but not always! It was especially interesting to read of the varied paths that others have traveled since Paschal, all of us seeming quite content and happy as we approach our so-called golden years. Let me add to the stories my own weird path.
Right upon graduation, I became a union electrician apprentice, a great field to earn a good living. Any of you who remember me know that I was a pretty bad student at Paschal. Still, I was bright enough to realize after just two months that electricianing was not for me. So I did the dumbest thing possible. I joined the Army. Which turned out to be good for me. Not as a soldier. My performance as a soldier was as bad as my performance as a high school student. But I seized the opportunity to experience many of the wonders and beauties of most of Western Europe. More important, I grew up, beginning to accept that I didn’t need to be normal.
After three years of the Army, I came home raring to go to school. I roared through Arlington State College (now UT-Arlington, of course) in three years, getting a B.A. in Spanish — this after royally flunking Latin at Paschal! I did so well I got a Fulbright grant to go to Cuzco, Peru, to study the Quechua language for a year. I wound up staying an extra year, on a lark with two other weirdos trying to homestead in the Amazon jungle (but my conscience is clear; our low tech endeavors did little damage to the rain forest). I found that chopping down humongous trees with a hand axe suited me about like electricianing, but much less lucrative.
So I came home to enter graduate study in Linguistics at UT-Austin, finishing my Ph.D. in 1969. Two of the three best things in my life happened in Austin. First, I married the smartest and prettiest woman in UT’s graduate school. Second, I received the job offer of my dreams, a faculty position at the University of New Mexico. We love our adopted state and now consider ourselves New Mexican. Here in Albuquerque, the third best thing in my life occurred, the birth of our only child, Bonnie. Still waiting for the fourth best thing, grandchild(ren).
I have loved my work. I taught general linguistics and Spanish linguistics (and occasionally Quechua) at UNM for 32 years, retiring in 2001. I still go to campus three or four days a week to continue my research on the Spanish of New Mexico. Life is very, very good, and I live happily in my deviancy as an unabashed liberal, environmentalist, and atheist.
Though I still have lots and lots of family in the Fort Worth area and go back at least once a year, I have had practically no contact with my PHS graduating class since 1956. I keep in touch only with my good buddy, Richard Franks, who now lives in Waco.