I got my feelin’s hurt


So, here’s what I’ve been thinking. I’m 75 years old and I feel great. I’m in good health, and I run a guide boat. I’ve been about everywhere I wanted to go (and some places I didn’t, courtesy of the Marine Corps). I’ve published two books, “Gone with the Tides” and “No Greater Love.”

Most of the things I’ve had to worry about in life have faded away. This may sound corny, but this is the best time of my life. I’m happily married to a Greek goddess, I have wonderful friends, I’m writing articles for the Times, like this one. I live in the “Garden of Eden.”

So, I’m thinking, what should I do next? What I really want is to improve my writing skills and learn more and read more. I don’t think I have enough time left to read every book I want. Besides, I think Grandma Moses didn’t start painting until she was in her 50s. For several years, I have wanted to apply to the masters in creative writing program at The University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee. The program is six weeks for four summers in June and July, when it is hot as Hades here. I said to myself, “Gill, Old Boy, if you are ever going to apply, now is the time.” And so, I did. 

Now, I’m thinking what are my chances of getting accepted? My daughter, whom I admire very much, matriculated at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York. There were some 10,000 applicants, some 750 were accepted. She was the valedictorian of her little Southern high school, and her SAT scores were high but not out the roof, so how did she get in? Well, these high falutin’ northeast colleges and universities where they turn out needle-nosed pseudo intellectuals, want an eclectic, diverse student body embracing folks of all walks. I was farming at the time so under father’s occupation she listed “farmer.” So, there you have it, a little girl from a small Southern town raised on a farm, she was the freshman class/ token redneck. Later a member of the selection committee confirmed that. 

Maybe that’s what I could be at Sewanee.

The first problem I ran into on the application - two recommendations from your college professors were required. Now, I’m pretty sure all of my college professors are dead. So, I recruited Dale Julian, proprietress of Downtown Books and Purl in Apalachicola, where both my books are available, and Martha Harris, an Episcopal priest. Both recommendations were so glowing I could hardly recognize to whom they were referring. 

Next, they want to know when you graduated from college, etc. You know how nowadays, on the computer, they have these drop-down dates that take forever to drop down to when you were born. Well, none of them dropped down within 20 years of anything I had ever done.

I don’t want to expose anything personal, but river boat captains don’t make as much money as you would think. I never have used my GI Bill. Off I go to see Charles Elliott at the local VA office who informed me that my GI Bill had expired. Are you kidding me?

I sent everything in, writing samples and all. I was all pumped up and excited, making plans to go to the mountains.

I Got Rejected! And with some lame excuse. I guess them university folks don’t want no redneck boat captain contaminatin’ their eclectiveness. 

They sure know how to hurt a man’s feelins’.

Your friend,

Capt. Gill

guest column, Gill Autrey


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