The Texas Tech College class of 1970 entered post-graduate life within the midst of a disaster, too, 50 years earlier than the coronavirus pandemic uprooted 2020 seniors’ ultimate semester plans.
The Could 11 twister hit on a Monday, beginning its lethal path close to campus in an space closely populated by college students. Commencement was scheduled for later within the week.
Jim Douglass, a 1970 graduate, mentioned nothing concerning the tragedy was lucky, however the luck of it hitting after finals when many college students had left for house or trip is one thing to marvel.
The twister killed 26 and injured tons of of others – had it occurred only a week sooner, its toll might have been worse.
Douglass was house alone that night time, watching a film concerning the Civil Battle on TV, when the entrance door blew open. He closed it, pondering it should be a vicious spring storm, just for it to open once more. Douglass pushed his sofa up in opposition to the entryway, exposing his air con unit. Then that blew out of the wall and was tossed round the lounge.
It seemed like a prepare was rumbling over his roof, Douglass recalled. He hid in his condo till it appeared to go.
“No one knew it was a twister till late that night time or the subsequent day,” Douglass mentioned. “We simply thought it was a hell of a storm.”
He explored the realm and downtown over the subsequent few days and noticed the destruction. Douglass remembered seeing a parking zone the place each different automotive was mangled, the others left untouched.
Commencement was out of thoughts for Douglass and sure many different budding professionals. The Lubbock Municipal Coliseum, the place the ceremony was historically held, was used as non permanent shelter for individuals who misplaced their properties within the twister. Commencement was canceled.
Douglass wasn’t too upset. He mentioned he probably wouldn’t have gone even when it did occur. Graduation ceremonies have been totally different again then, with little fanfare.
“They might simply say ’Everybody within the Faculty of Enterprise, arise,’” Douglass mentioned. “You arise, everybody’s sporting the identical black mortar board and robe, and then you definitely sit down and so they name the subsequent faculty.”
In truth, being a member of the Class of 1970 has introduced different alternatives for recognition, Douglass mentioned.
In 2000, thirty years after the twister, the college invited alumni to take part in that yr’s graduation ceremony, the primary on the United Spirit Area.
Curt Langford, now president and CEO of the Texas Tech Alumni Affiliation, was one of many organizers of the occasion. He mentioned roughly 200 graduates come again for the ceremony they didn’t get to have.
A lot of those that participated bought long-awaited, and wanted, closure, Langford mentioned. It might not have been the ceremony college students dreamed of to push by means of lengthy nights of learning. However perhaps it was higher.
Douglass and Langford agreed it’s an odd parallel to don’t have any in-person graduations 50 years later. Each technology has its trauma, Douglass mentioned, that shapes who they’re. It will possibly form who you’re – however you press on.
“You don’t should stroll at graduation to be a part of the Crimson Raider household,” Langford mentioned. “They’re Crimson Raiders for all times. It’s disappointing, however sooner or later they’re going to be honored. In some ways, there’s in all probability going to be extra consideration on their class. By no means does this rob them of the great schooling they obtained.”
“We simply have to put all of it in perspective. Within the massive image, it’s small potatoes. It’s a disgrace they will’t undergo it,” Douglass mentioned. “However perhaps 50 years from now, they’ll be interviewed by the paper for it.”