To begin, I want to emphasize that I do not consider Charlottesville to be in the “South” any more than I consider Washington, DC, a southern city. Even though it is not a large city, the City of Charlottesville, home of the University of Virginia, is truly cosmopolitan. As one ventures farther from the city, itself, it becomes more rural, more “southern.” A columnist some years ago opined that in traveling just a few miles south of the city one would run into “Alabama,” a statement that angered both C’villians and Alabamians!
In 1998 after Walt’s retirement from the Army, we moved to Marion, Alabama, so that he could begin his retirement career teaching college chemistry courses at Marion Military Institute. At first, I taught high school and middle school science classes, but in 1995 the Internet was due to arrive at Judson College, a small college for women in Marion. I quit my job at the end of the 1994-95 school season and enrolled at Judson College as a student knowing that it would give me access to the Internet from it’s very beginning in our small town. At that time, I had only read about the Web, but from the start I knew that it would connect me to the world at large even though I was living at the end of a dirt road on a private lake in a very rural part of the south. In the fall of 1995 after exchanging my first email messages (with a doctor at Johns Hopkins discussing some treatment I was receiving), I mentioned to the college vice-president that I would like to volunteer to be the College Webmaster. He replied that the Web was really just ” the kids’ thing of the moment,” and that in five years no one would even remember that it had existed. He did, however, welcome my continuing to work with the other students in creating the first website.
In February 1996 I did become Judson College’s volunteer Webmaster, but the College soon realized that if they were to own the content, they would have to pay me, and so they did – though at first for just a few hours/week. What an opportunity – and it probably would not have occurred anywhere else at that time! One of my sons commented that nowhere else in the world would someone like me be able to get anywhere near a Web server. I had eleven absolutely serendipitous years during which I was able to go from volunteer Webmaster to full-time faculty teaching my Web Design and Development courses together with other computer science courses. Never in a million years would I have predicted such an outcome when we left the Washington, DC, area to move to the rural south!
If I were reading this essay to my children, they would respond with, “And the moral of this story is that good fortune can pop up in some of the most unexpected places!”