I decided I wanted to go back to school. After two years in New Orleans, we were ready to leave and living in Utah for a while looked like a good thing. I applied to BYU to Electrical Engineering school and was accepted. I didn’t want to burn my bridges with IBM, so I applied for a leave of absence for three years. That’s how long I figured it would take me to finish the degree. It was also the longer leave that IBM would give and I had to do some fancy talking to get them to agree to it. Electrical Engineering was a five-year degree, but I had a little head start having taken classes in Battle Creek at Kellogg Community College and Perkinston Jr College in Mississippi.
Driving our little 4-cylinder Pontiac Tempest (the same car that had the door caved in on our first date), pulling a trailer filled with everything we owned, we left New Orleans and headed for Utah. It took one whole day just to cross Texas. We stopped in New Mexico to see our friends, the Varner family. They took one look at the load I was pulling and said I would never get over the mountains with our little car. They offered to go with us from New Mexico all the way to Provo with them pulling the trailer (I think they had a pick-up truck) and us driving along behind. That was the kind of friends they were. I’m sure Billy has a special spot in the Celestial Kingdom. He’s one of the humblest and nicest men I have ever known.
I think it was on this trip that we decided to go to the four-corners area. This is the only spot in the United States where four states come together at one point. I think the states are New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado and Utah. They have a monument there and if you had four legs, you could stand with one in each of four states, but you can do two at a time. It was the only time I have ever been there. It was pretty cool.
So, in June of 1968, the four of us, Karen, Matthew, Sis Schilling and myself, arrived in Provo with Billy Varner driving along with us pulling our trailer, to start yet another chapter in the varied and wondrous life of Jim Hoag. We were set to conquer BYU.