By Bettye Galloway
Every student who has ever attended the University of Mississippi is unique in some way, but my favorite campus story is about my friend Bill.
The name on his Ole Miss diploma is William H. Curtis, but to all his friends and fellow classmates he is simply “Bill.” Bill graduated with a degree in business administration in the 1970s and was immediately offered a position as a staff member in the Continuing Education Center.
In those days Ole Miss hosted a number of summer camps, band, football, cheerleading, etc., to give the area young people a view of what Ole Miss was all about and hopefully to serve as a recruiting tool for future students. Continuing Education played a large part in planning and helping with these camps, and all the staff members worked diligently to make the camps a success. One of the highlights of these camps was a barbecue at nearby Sardis Lake and Bill was involved in making the barbecues a success.
At one such barbecue, Bill was leaving the lake in a pickup, coming back to the campus for more supplies, when an Ole Miss student who wanted to get back to the campus before his friends were ready to leave asked Bill if he could hitch a ride back to campus. Bill said, “Sure,” but then he glanced into the truck and said, “But the cab is filled with boxes.” The student assured him that he would be glad to ride in the back—it was a pretty day, and he would enjoy the ride.
Then, again as Bill was leaving the area, lake security called him on the CB radio (this, of course was before the days of cell phones), said they had an emergency—that somebody had fallen and needed immediate medical attention—but that the ambulance was out on another run. They had located a volunteer fireman with red lights and a siren, but the driver didn’t know the way to the hospital in Oxford. They advised that the vehicle was trying to catch up with Bill in his pickup and asked that as soon as he saw the emergency lights behind him if he would lead it to Oxford to the emergency room at the hospital as quickly as possible. Of course Bill agreed.
Bill drove slowly along, watched in his rear-view mirror until he saw the emergency lights behind him, and then he stepped on the gas. He drove as fast as he could down the wiggly road from the dam, the flashing lights and the siren on the emergency vehicle behind him going full blast. The faster Bill drove, the faster the vehicle behind him drove.
There was only one little problem. Bill had completely forgotten about the student in the back of the pickup who had heard nothing of the conversation on the CB radio, and who had no idea what was going on. All the student knew was that he was riding in the back of a pickup, driven by a maniac, and that a vehicle with a siren and flashing lights was chasing them for all it was worth.
Down the road, around the curves, and onto the highway they dashed. Fifteen miles into town they raced. And the poor student was hanging on for dear life.
Bill careened into the emergency entrance of the hospital, the chasing vehicle hard on his heels. He screeched the pickup to a stop and looked out—just in time to see very pale Ole Miss student jumping the hedge and heading at a hard run toward the campus.
That’s the last time that student was seen at Sardis Lake.
Bettye H. Galloway retired from the University of Mississippi and later as the Executive Vice President of an analytical Laboratory. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org