Topic: My Clemson nightmare, a Novel. (Very long, but worth it.)
Replies: 37   Last Post: Oct 4, 2019 4:49 PM by: Lakedude®
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My Clemson nightmare, a Novel. (Very long, but worth it.)

emoji_events [65]
Posted: Oct 3, 2019 12:10 PM

I may have already shared this awhile back, if so, I'm old, deal with it.

As my profile says, I am a 1976 Clemson Chemical Engineering graduate. But, it was NOT easy.

I had to attend a summer session in 1976 to take one last course, second year Organic Chemistry. I had dropped it before, since I was taking 20 hours that semester, and was floundering in that and several other courses. So, something had to go, and that was it. My professor the first time around was Dr. Nick Marullo, who is now listed as Faculty Emeritus.

Two of my fellow Chem E's were in the same boat, and we split an apartment that last summer session. Imagine our concern when we go to that first class, and who strides in but..Dr. Nick Marullo. And yes, he remembered us.

Long story made even longer, as anyone who has ever taken summer classes knows, everything is accelerated, cramming the same course work into far less time. The final exam counted 60% of the grade. We had had 4 huge graded tests prior to that. I think one of us had passed two of them, another one had passed one, and yours truly had the big zippo, goose egg, nada, kaflooie, KAPUT! Graduation happened like 3 days after the final exam. The other two already had jobs lined up. So, needless to say, a whole lot of pressure.

Being enterprising pre-snowflake era snowflakes, we decided to go to the professors office a few days before the final exam and grovel, throwing ourselves on the mercy of the court, so to speak. I think I was elected to be spokesperson for the group, because unlike chemistry, I be have command of English language, having actually taken English courses which most people avoided like the plague as electives, and acing them. And so, we groveled eloquently, I assure you. We brought up the fact that we were all Seniors, with jobs lined up already, and this was the last course we needed to graduate, so if there was any way he could cut us a break, PLEASE help us.

Dr. Marullo was a chain smoker back then, and smoking was actually still allowed in buildings. He took a drag off his cigarette, looked us dead in the eyes, and said, "Boys, I've flunked boys out of here and sent them to Viet Nam, you ain't gonna get no break from me." That is, a direct quote, to the best of my recollection. And trust me, that is not something I will ever be likely to forget.

So, armed with that reassurance, we hustled back to the apartment, put on the coffee pot, broke out the No-Doz pills, and proceeded to get about 4 hours sleep total in the next three days, cramming. I actually spent my fitful four hour nap with headphones on, with a tape of Organic Chemistry rules and formulas playing as I slept.

I was so wired during the exam, at one point my hand started shaking, and my pencil flew out of it across the room. I was told to remain in my seat, and either he or a PA picked it up and brought it back to me. He may have thought I was going to attempt to look at someone's paper while I was up. Little did he know, with the tunnel vision I had by then from lack of sleep, I could barely see what was on the paper in front of me, much less anybody else's paper.

My older brother was going to be flying in from New Jersey for the graduation, and one of the hardest things I ever had to do was call my Mom and Dad and tell them that he might be coming for nothing, because my graduation was VERY much in doubt at that point in time. I had no feeling for how I had actually done on the exam. Neither did my two room mates.

Grades back then (maybe still are) were posted using Student ID numbers instead of names, and with the exam grade and letter grade for the course out to the side. Dr. Marullo's office was at the far end of a LONG hall in the Chemistry building, with shiny tiled floors, shiny tiled walls, and one of those defractive glass brick walls at the far end, letting in light. I don't know where the breeze came from to make it happen, but as soon as we rounded the corner into that hall, with all that refracted light coming in, we could see this tiny piece of paper fluttering in the breeze, taped on his office door. Picture three guys walking to the guillotine, and you would get the flavor and speed of that walk to that door.

I will go to my grave never knowing if he gave us a break or not, and don't really care. All I know is, all three of us saw our grades at about the same time, all of us passed, and the screaming we let loose releasing four days of fear and tension had other professors opening their doors to see what in the world was going on. Thankfully, Dr. Marullo was not in his office at the time. We literally ran screaming from the building, and the party we had at the apartment that night could have been the stuff of legends, if it had only involved more than just the three of us.

I have not drunk coffee since August 1976. I associate coffee with a slow descent into He!!. My version of the college nightmare, had for many years thereafter, always involved that summer session in some way or the other.

The End.

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Great read!***

Posted: Oct 3, 2019 12:18 PM

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Re: Great read!***

Posted: Oct 3, 2019 12:40 PM

I graduated with Honors in 1973. However, a prick English professor in my freshman year told me virtually the same thing. Kept finding questionable grammar errors to render all my A for content papers an F�. I went with a friend to find out what's up. He said, he wouldn't change his opinion, better I go to Vietnam than him. Fortunately, my friend said lets go. Glad I didn't do something stupid. I went on to become a Lawyer and a prosecutor for 40 years. So there you butt.

Re: My Clemson nightmare, a Novel. (Very long, but worth it.)

Posted: Oct 3, 2019 12:27 PM

Great read! I remember those long walks down those long hallways. =o) haha Thanks for the flashbacks.

+1 for the word "kaflooie".

2020 purple level member

Re: My Clemson nightmare, a Novel. (Very long, but worth it.)

Posted: Oct 3, 2019 12:28 PM

Some nice writing for an Engineer !! You are a true Renaissance Man - a rare breed indeed ! Great read, and thx for sharing.

2020 white level member

Hey, Engineers are peoples too!

Posted: Oct 3, 2019 12:29 PM


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Re: My Clemson nightmare, a Novel. (Very long, but worth it.)

Posted: Oct 3, 2019 12:30 PM

This is such a good read! Takes me back to the “A Real ####” days for sure. For me kinetics was my nemesis. It’s was so hard to see light at the end of the tunnel back then, but sticking with it to get BS in ChE is still one of the accomplishments I’m most proud of.

On a side note, for years after graduating I’d dream about still being in school (usually in Earle Hall) reliving the anxiety all over again!

2020 purple level member

Re: My Clemson nightmare, a Novel. (Very long, but worth it.)***

Posted: Oct 3, 2019 12:32 PM

Re: My Clemson nightmare, a Novel. (Very long, but worth it.)

Posted: Oct 3, 2019 12:33 PM

I can certainly relate to that except it was every semester rather than finals. I took a full load of biology classes with labs every semester in Forestry school and there was little time for anything else. When I finally graduated I had all the credits needed for med school ... but not the grades! I can only remember one professor who gave me a break in all those years. In my final semester I chose to take Spanish 101 because there was this very,very attractive young lady in line to register and I felt like I needed to know her! My faculty advisor, knowing my standings, suggested that I try another elective but I was already in love! After final exam I told the professor that I had to have a C to graduate and he helped me out. I’ve been a Clemson Supporter ever since. lol.

Yes ... she and I became friends,

She married a rich guy and I spent all my good years in the woods. Ain’t life wonderful? It is if you are a Clemson man!

Re: My Clemson nightmare, a Novel. (Very long, but worth it.)

Posted: Oct 3, 2019 12:39 PM

I remember one of those English elective courses I was talking about. Teacher was a VERY attractive young grad assistant, about 5'9", long wavy black hair, green eyes, named Linda Suddeth. Funny the things you remember vividly about college life 43 years on! :)

Anyone who doesn't think a fuzzy grey sweater can look good on a woman never took that class. :)

Message was edited by: 76er®

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I enjoyed your post

Posted: Oct 3, 2019 12:36 PM

Mostly because you “be have command of English language.”

I use that line a lot. It is a homage to an old Steve Martin

Posted: Oct 3, 2019 12:46 PM

album, where he says "Some of us have a way with the English language, and some of us.......not have way."

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Congrats - I had other nightmares but Clemson was the BEST

Posted: Oct 3, 2019 1:40 PM


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Re: My Clemson nightmare, a Novel. (Very long, but worth it.)

Posted: Oct 3, 2019 1:58 PM

I was at Clemson between
63-67 and shared those experiences
more than once!
It made real world pressure
much more bearable !

2020 white level member

So true. I actually remember thinking that very thing at

Posted: Oct 3, 2019 2:04 PM

times when knotty problems arose at the chemical plant. I would always say to myself, "Is this as bad as the pressure that last final exam at Clemson?" The answer was always "Oh Hal Naw!"

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Peter Jacobsen had a great story about his experience at

Posted: Oct 3, 2019 2:14 PM

the PGA Qualifying tournament when he came out of college. It sums up about what that exam experience was like.

For those who do not follow golf, the PGA Qualifying School is a 6 round tournament held once a year. Top __ players (not sure of the number now, I think it was 25 back when he played in it) got their PGA Tour cards for the next season. He came into the last hole, the last day, pretty much knowing he needed to make par to be in. He his his drive into a bunker about 180 yards from the green. The weather was in the 40's, and he had a bad lie, which would require a low fade, but which still had to hold the narrow green. He said "I don't have this shot in my bag. But, I HAD to have that shot in my bag, or I would not be allowed to wear Sansabelt slacks and hit golf balls for a living." He hit it on the green, and made the par, but not until he knocked it four feet past on the first putt, and had his knees shaking so badly he had to hold them together to make that last four footer.

That's how it felt.

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pre-snowflake era snowflake...lol***

Posted: Oct 3, 2019 2:41 PM

2020 white level member

As an '87 CU ChemE grad, I appreciate your plight. Second

Posted: Oct 3, 2019 2:59 PM

semester organic when you had to memorize all the reactions (Ketones + Yada = Yada Yada Yada) was a bear. Also remember making a 15 in one of the Unit Ops classes. Mullins was the professor. Went to talk to him, only to be told to not worry, 15 was the second highest grade in the class and I would be fine. Had never experienced that level of "curve" until that point.

2020 white level member

Re: As an '87 CU ChemE grad, I appreciate your plight. Second

Posted: Oct 3, 2019 3:26 PM

Absolutely the truth. We had never experienced a "curve" of any type in my high school. I dropped a Calculus class early on because I was making grades far below the "A"s I was used to in high school, actually failing a couple tests. Knowing then what I know now, I was probably middle of the class or higher when I dropped it. That screwed up my progression for 2 1/2 years due to it being a prerequisite for other classes, etc. If only they had put out a "class rank" on each test, I would have had a better idea of where I stood. But, you could never do that in today's world either, it would make some snowflake feel bad about themselves.

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We need less snowflakes in college. Of course that goes for

Posted: Oct 3, 2019 4:29 PM

everywhere else as well!

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Re: My Clemson nightmare, a Novel. (Very long, but worth it.)

Posted: Oct 3, 2019 3:11 PM

in '65 I took the 2nd course in organic chem and unfortunately also drew prof. marullo.managed to get through the course,but just barely.not my main point which is a bit funny.one day in class some guy had fallen asleep during the lecture.marullo spotted this,and instead of waking the sleeping student with a loud noise of some sort,marullo stuck his face about 1ft. from the poor kid's face and waited until he woke up,about 20 or 30 seconds.imagine the surprise.everyone else in the class went along with the gag by keeping silent.not sure whether this demonstrates that marullo had a sense of humor or more likely just enjoyed tormenting people.

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Re: My Clemson nightmare, a Novel. (Very long, but worth it.)

emoji_events [9]
Posted: Oct 3, 2019 5:21 PM

Interesting thread/topic. I have a little different take about my Clemson years. As a HS student, I was terrible graduating in lower 10 percentile and a powerful and majestic 800 on SAT (smooth 395/405) and took some night courses at a small North Carolina college. This was 1966/7. Well, a part timer had no draft deferement and I had to enter the giant military complex as a lowly Private, and after training my ### was in Vietnam.

In August 1969 I was assigned to Clemson University ROTC Dept. as an instructor (rank of SGT E-5). I had heard of Clemson but had no clue if it was near Charleston or Greenville. Army allowed me to one 3 hour course/semester and that got my enrollment established at CU. I wanted a college education and was willing to whatever it took that was lawful. I was honorably discharged in Aug 1971 and enrolled as a fulltime student. One major problem.. I had NO money other than the G.I Bill monthly check and my parents had even less money than I. So, no help from home and I was own my own..

I found 2 to 3 part time jobs, rents a cheap trailer, drove a free (from my brother) 1951 Chevy coupe. There only 36 checks from GI Bill I could count on and I went around the clock with classes. I took 22/23 hours one semester (don't think you can do that now). I had NO TV. My last semester I had a problem. I had not taken English Lit 201/2(?) earlier because of all the time it took to read & adsorb Sir Gwain and the Green Giant ( some BS). I signed up for this class and went to see my professor (I will not name him/her) and informed Dr. ##### of the following:

I am a graduating senior, have interviewed and accepted a nice job pending my regal commencement ceremony in Littlejohn on May 10, 1974. Told him I was a combat veteran from the Vietnam war and I'll turn 27 years old my next birthday and I have to have your course to graduate. Now, what do I have to do to pass your course to make a D- . He looked a me a said "you are serious aren't you??" I replied, "You have no f*cking idea how serious I am.." He told me what was required (don't cut any classes, sit in front row, read as much as you have time for, ask questions etc etc. I did it and ended up making a B.

I saw only 3 or 4 football games a student. Saturday & Sunday were work days $$$$$. A man gotta' eat


Also a ‘76 grad, with 2 semesters of organic chemistry...

Posted: Oct 3, 2019 8:53 PM

Didn’t have Marullo, and I forget the guys name, but I do remember the 50 point question on the final exam like I read it yesterday. It was “Synthesize aspirin.” Aspirin being salicylic acid, I had seen it in the book while cramming the night before and was fortunate to get credit for 35 of the 50 points and slide by with a “C” for the course. Great times. I miss them.

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Clemson Engineering PTSD is a thing.

Posted: Oct 3, 2019 10:36 PM

Still have the nightmares.

The Co-op program put me in summer school one summer.

Worked hard, but played hard. Best summer of my life.

Classes in the morning. East Bank beach from 1 to 4 PM with the summer school wimens. Study the rest of the day. Sleep, do it again the next day.

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Re: My Clemson nightmare, a Novel. (Very long, but worth it.)

Posted: Oct 4, 2019 4:52 AM

My Great-Grandfather was founding faculty at Clemson. I have run into several men who took chemistry under him and they all said the same thing. "I never would have graduated Clemson if he didn't pass me in chemistry."

them feels

Posted: Oct 4, 2019 9:36 AM

I had to grovel for both undergrad graduation and grad school graduation...

Undergrad, I got an F in Western Civ, mostly due to attendance in an 8 o'clock class (vs. sleeping after multiple all nighters in architecture stuido). Grovel worked, got to re-take the final exam, to get those 'elective' credits. Yes, Western Civ was the ONLY elective available spring semester senior year that worked w/ Studio schedule. I'm not sure I've ever told my parents about that or not

Grad school, needed a 3.0 GPA to graduate. Grad director called me in to her office, broke the news that I had a 2.95. 0.05 off. Got too many C's compared to A's in a field mostly made up of B's...NO professors would budge on their grades, and I wasn't asking for anything for free. I offered to progress projects, retake finals, anything.

So yeah, had to call my parents (who were also coming from NJ) and tell them I wasn't graduating....worst part, my wife and I went thru grad school together, but didn't get to walk together. Still bugs me, 15 years later. Luckily, I didn't have to take any classes over, my studio prof allowed me to re-present my 2nd year project in August (and agreed to upgrade me from B to A), and changed my spring semester grade. Walked in December

Re: them feels

Posted: Oct 4, 2019 9:56 AM

The Chem E curriculum was notorious for nearly forcing you to schedule eight o'clock classes. Another version of my college nightmare, which I had for YEARS, was that I had signed up for an eight o'clock class my last semester, and then forgot I had signed up for it. So, I didn't attend a single class the whole time. But, I found out about it the week before exams, and the final counted 60% of the grade. So, if I could perfecto the final, I could escape with a "D". This of course led to the sleep deprivation while crammming, etc, during the dream, and eventually waking up in a cold sweat.It was kind of like the childhood nightmares about falling from great height, you always wake up before you hit the ground. I always woke up before I could find out if I passed or not. :)

Another thing Chem E was famous for, was scheduling Friday afternoon / evening Labs accompanying Chemistry courses. Chem E's were always in a special "separate" section of these. If I wanted to go home for a weekend during those semesters, I would have to wait and drive the 3.5 hours on Saturday, since it would have been way past midnight before I could make it on Friday.

Of course, the more I discovered college life, the less frequent the trips home became, pretty much vanishing altogether by my Junior year, except for long breaks. :)

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Guys (and gals), can't tell you how much I have enjoyed

Posted: Oct 4, 2019 10:01 AM

sharing this story with you, and reading some of your own stories in response. I do believe you all have given me so many TU's that this has become a Hall of Fame poast, one of the few I have ever had!

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Posted: Oct 4, 2019 11:48 AM


here, for your records

Posted: Oct 4, 2019 11:50 AM
Capture.JPG(162.8 K)

Whew, for a second there, I thought you'se was

Posted: Oct 4, 2019 12:14 PM

launching a GeeHawd or something. :)

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What sucked for me about SSN/grade posted outside office...

Posted: Oct 4, 2019 10:36 AM

...is that I have a Kommie Kalifornia issued SSN that starts with 555...everyone else seemed to have a SC or at least east coast issued SSN. Everyone knew the 555-xx-xxxx grade was mine. May as well posted names next to the grades...LOL!

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Thank goodness California hadn't gone bonkers yet back

Posted: Oct 4, 2019 11:20 AM

when I was at Clemson. (They were on the way, though.) We had enough to do protesting Viet Nam, or streaking, beer busts, Frat house Open Smokers, playing basketball in the old quadrangle, or Fike, swimming at the Y Beach, bowling in the Student Union, concerts at Harcombe or Littlejohn, etc, without worrying about Libtards from Californica. Hmm, I didn't mention studying anywhere in there. Could be that's why graduating in Chem E was hard. :)

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Re: My Clemson nightmare, a Novel. (Very long, but worth it.)

Posted: Oct 4, 2019 2:49 PM

I think we all have those horror stories.......my husband didn't know until 2 days before graduation if he was going to walk because of a certain Dr. Poe, who taught him in 1975.

Did he say "Nevermore!" when your husband asked if he

Posted: Oct 4, 2019 2:51 PM

would pass?

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Electrical Engineering?

Posted: Oct 4, 2019 2:58 PM

Probably a circuits class?

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Re: Electrical Engineering?

Posted: Oct 4, 2019 3:10 PM

With a name like Poe, he almost had to be an English professor, right?

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Or a Vet***

Posted: Oct 4, 2019 4:49 PM

2020 white level member

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