When I arrived at the University of Tennessee in the fall of 1970, I found myself being at loose ends somewhat.
I had made a last-minute decision to transfer from Tennessee Tech to UT in late summer — I will spare you the details as to why — which left me missing some enrollment deadlines.
I did manage to get registered for fall classes, and my friends at Tennessee Farm Bureau helped line up a part-time job for me. But I showed up in Knoxville with no place to live.
On the day before classes began, I met with Mr. Fletcher Luck, the director of services for the college of agriculture, to receive my job assignment. We struck it off from the very beginning.
Mr. Luck was a very likable kind of man with an upbeat personality. Incidentally, I came to find he had Macon County ties as he was agriculture extension leader there in the late 1940s and early 1950s.
We discussed the details of my job, which turned out to be washing dishes at the ag cafeteria ... a job I came to really enjoy.
As we ended our conversation that day, I was preparing to leave his office when he asked,” By the way, do you have a place to live?”
I admitted, “I do not.”
He continued, “There was a lady in here this morning looking for a college student to live with her elderly sister. I understand she has a farm out in Concord. You might have to feed her cows this winter and do a few chores for her, but she won’t charge you any rent. If you are interested I will arrange for you to meet her sister.”
I responded, “I’m very interested.”
And that’s how I ended up living on the farm owned by Mrs. M.C. Stoner for the next two years.
Mr. Stoner had passed away a few years earlier, leaving Mrs. Stoner alone out in the country. She lived in a neat little farm house, complete with fireplace and all the comforts of home.
Mrs. Stoner, who was 85-% deaf, took her hearing aids off and retired to the upstairs every afternoon just before dusk. You might say I had the entire first floor to myself. It was almost too good to be true. Furthermore, there were only two cows to feed, and they were running on 120 acres. I never had to feed a straw of hay.
The Concord community was located about 12 miles east of the UT campus. I made the drive almost every day.
My time in Concord provides the setting for my most memorable Halloween experience.
It was Halloween day in 1971. After a long day of classes, I was delayed in leaving campus and found myself driving back to the Stoner farm well after dark.
Since it was Halloween night I was on the lookout for anything out of the ordinary as I drove through West Knoxville. I had almost made it home without incident when I came to a four-way stop at the top of a long hill. As I made a right turn onto Concord Road, I could see the lights of the farmhouse in the distance. I also noticed the headlights of a car coming in my direction … and it was coming fast.
I was just beginning to accelerate when our cars came side by side. As we met, I heard the sound of a dull thud as something impacted my car at the driver’s door. In the same instant, I felt the slightest sensation of a light, cool mist on my face. It was like the mist from one of those foggers you see in outdoor restaurants in the hottest part of summer ... almost unperceivable. It was so much like a breath of cool air that I dismissed it immediately.
When I arrived at the farm, I checked for any damage to my car. In the dark, I found evidence I had been hit with an egg. Since there was no noticeable damage, I called it a night and went inside the house.
It was later that evening when I peered in the bathroom mirror and noticed my face had a yellow-orange color to it. A closer looked revealed I had egg on my face. I grabbed my flashlight and rushed outside. This is what I discovered.
Just behind the rear-view mirror on the driver’s door, I found a small dimple where the egg had made its impact. The force of the explosion of the egg had forced the vent window open just enough to allow a portion of the egg’s contents to enter the car and hit me in the face. I had to shake my head with amusement as I relived the moment of impact that night.
In looking back, I found consolation in the fact the egg thrower could never have possibly imagined how successful his effort turned out. If he had known the outcome, he would be telling his children and grandchild, to this very day, of his egg-throwing prowess. But, alas, he never knew.
As for me, every Halloween, I relive the moment and recall the egg on (and in) my face.
Hartsville resident Jack McCall is an author and motivational speaker.