The Biggest City I Had
I DIDN’T JUST DO FIELD WORK the summer before going away to San Jose State. I also scrubbed and waxed the floors at Central Union Elementary with my daddy. Once again, I was building up my body without ever going into a weight room or setting foot on a track: I had to move desks out of the way, big heavy wood-and-steel desks that weighed some 40 pounds not including the books in them, and run that big, heavy floor scrubber, stripping wax and applying new wax. But I wasn’t doing it to get stronger, or because I loved waxing floors (or, for that matter, picking grapes or chopping cotton). I needed money for school. I had a full scholarship, but that meant, in cold, hard terms, $95 a month. Tuition was paid, and the $95 went to room and board and books. It didn’t buy me clothes, didn’t give me money to go to a show or to take a girl someplace. Every little bit I made that summer I put in the bank and hoped it would hold me throughout the school year.
Then again, I knew I wasn’t going there to have a social life. I wasn’t even really going to be a star athlete. I knew I wanted an education, which would keep me from scrubbing classroom floors and jumping in and out of raggedy pickup trucks to get me back and forth from the field for the rest of my life. My parents wanted the same thing. They couldn’t tell me anything about what I was getting into; they just told me to go on ahead, get your education, do the best you can.
I just didn’t know how much of an education I was in for. It started from the moment I arrived at San Jose State in August 1963. I flew there by myself, from the airport in Fresno, my first time ever flying. I was on a little prop plane, with my one lonely bag, big