Stories from homecoming: A lot has changed at JU in half a century

Lemuel Hardison and his wife Maryland arrived on Johnson University’s campus Tuesday afternoon for Homecoming.

Hardison graduated from JU in 1966 and now works as pastor at Northspray Christian Church in Eden, North Carolina.

He has been coming back for Homecoming for many years now and said he enjoys it.

“It is refreshing to hear young professors preach,” Hardison said. “This is a good opportunity to come and get some good quality spiritual food.”

Hardison, who returns every year for Homecoming, said a lot has changed since he came to Johnson, especially the dorms.

“When I came I was in the old boy’s dorm,” Hardison said. “And the bathroom was at the end of the hall, just one big bathroom, and you stood in line to do everything. Now they got these nice dorms.”

Hardison said the technology available to JU students has also come a long way over the years.

“We had one telephone and it wasn’t in the dorm,” he said. “If you needed to make a phone call you had to go out there and use that.”

Hardison said that even the way students ate at Johnson University was completely different because they did not have many of the buildings the university has now.

“We did not have hot dog and hamburger shops and Starbucks like they got now all over campus, where you can go get a snack,” Hardison said. “They served breakfast at 6 a.m., lunch at noon, the evening meal at 5:30 or 6 p.m. and you were at those meals or you didn’t get anything to eat.”

Hardison said that the campus was configured differently in the 1960s compared to the way it is now.

“That old chapel was built and finished the year before I came, and we were the first year that got to use it,” Hardison said. “But [there was] the old chapel, the old main, the old gym and I think the building they call Bell Hall now was for married couples. There was a cow barn back then too.”

Maryland Hardison remembers how different things were as well.

“Couldn’t even hold hands back then,” Hardison said. “When I was here.”

Hardison and his wife stayed in Sevierville for Homecoming, but went back to their home in North Carolina after the last main Homecoming session Thursday.

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