UL in History: The Enriching Life of Dr. Potter

Dr Clifton W. Potter Jr. ~ UL History Professor

One word in the latest edition of The Critograph—nostalgiasent me tumbling back through the decades to my freshman year at Lynchburg College.   High school was, for me, five years of drudgery. Arriving on our campus on September 3, 1958 was like leaving a dark tunnel and coming into the sunlight of a summer morning.  Later, after studying classical philosophy as a junior, I probably compared it to Plato’s analogy of the cave. Time has softened all those memories, but that does not negate the fact that my freshman year was the turning point in my life.

When this column is published, barely one hundred days will remain before the ties that bound me to this special place will be severed and I shall pass into history, a faded picture in an old yearbook, or one of many names on a long-forgotten list.  This does not trouble me because this is the essence of life, or to quote a line from of my favorite songs from 1934, For All We Know,” We come and go like a ripple on a stream.”  

While I am writing this column, I am thinking of all those persons who have enriched my life over the last sixty years.  So many of them are gone now—professors, classmates, and students—I miss each one of them, but the lessons they taught me and the priceless gifts they gave me remain. You have met many of them in my columns over the last fifteen years. Reporters from The Critograph looking for a good Halloween story have often asked me in October if our campus is haunted.  Being a Celt by descent, I take such questions seriously, but how do we define “haunted?” Sometimes on evenings in the fall, when there is just a touch of fog, I am sure that I see the lights of Westover Hall, which vanished in 1970, glimmering in the twilight.  The raucous laughter of one of my favorite professors still echoes down the halls of Hobbs-Sigler Hall, and it is opening night of yet another show in Hopwood Auditorium although the lights are dark. The sound of dance music still floats through the windows of the Hall Campus Center Ballroom, although the musicians and couples departed long ago.  There is magic in moonlight, especially in the springtime when our campus is bathed in silver and lovers still stroll its walkways oblivious to the passage of time. If you have stood anywhere on campus when the snow is softly falling, covering everything with a blanket of stillness, you know the meaning of magic. There is not a sound except the wind whispering through the naked branches.  Is our campus haunted? Perhaps, but at times it is enchanted. I shall miss this special place, where I have spent three-quarters of my life, but I shall never forget it.