The following story is written by Bonnie Bain
The Devine Years
Summers at Camp Mystic in Hunt, Texas, helped me appreciate growing up in Devine. There I met girls from other small towns but also from wealthy neighborhoods in big cities. At first, I was envious of those big-city girls, but it did not take long for me to learn how free and protected I was from enormous social pressures that I knew would be difficult for me.
My school years were years with the same friends from first grade (there was no kindergarten) through graduation. I rode my bicycle or walked to school until I could drive. Peggy Duke, Ron Schott, Tony Petri, and Donny Hardcastle all lived within a block of me. For awhile, my cousins, Frank and Bill Bain, lived across the pasture from me. [Note: Bonnie’s parents are William W. and Ruth Bain. William was mayor of Devine for years and president of the Medina Valley State Bank until his death in 1968 at the age of 53.] So, growing up in Devine was like growing up in a large family. I’m still grateful for my classmates and our time together.
The College Years
In my family, I knew college was in store for me after high school graduation. My Aunt Jo Bain had attended a small woman’s college in Virginia before marrying my Uncle Frank, so I knew about Sullins from her. I was eager to go out-of-state, so two years there before attending UT Austin seemed perfect for me.
I love trains, so I rode the train from San Antonio to Bristol, Virginia, back and forth from school. I have stories about some of those train rides! I found my “voice” at Sullins, and I realized the opportunities for women to assume leadership roles which were not as available in the sixties in co-ed schools. I lived every moment to the fullest because I was keenly aware that I had only a little while to be there.
Upon graduation from Sullins, I transferred to UT Austin, discovered my passion, or it discovered me, and I graduated with a masters degree in social work in 1967. Sadly, Sullins closed in the 70s, and many of us grieved that loss deeply.
The Career Path
My first job after graduation was in an institution for the mentally retarded, now referred to as the developmentally delayed. I learned a lot about bringing about change in a large institution, about dedicated professionals trying to enhance the lives of the residents as well as develop alternatives to institutionalization. The residents, themselves, were treasures and taught me a lot about how to really listen, about resilience, and courage.
I was recruited from the Austin State School to join the faculty at the UT School of Social Work, now named after a generous donor, the Steve Hicks School of Social Work. My position was as a field faculty member, funded by a federal grant. I organized, supervised, and evaluated masters social work students in their first year of internship in the Round Rock public schools. When the federal grant ran out, I was asked to apply for a job as counselor in the dean’s office of the College of Natural Sciences at UT, a position I held until the School of Social Work asked me to return to teach in the classroom and liaison to students in their internships. I was responsible for evaluating their work in the field. This was work I loved.
Sometime during these years, I opened a private practice and also worked in a psychiatrist’s office, counseling single adults and couples. Teaching, I believed, enriched my counseling; counseling enriched my teaching by keeping it fresh and real. In this role, I also developed workshops for other social work professionals, wrote articles, and co-authored a book on teaching diversity in the field. With relief and grief, I retired from private counseling in 2004.
When I retired fully from UT Austin in 2008, I realized I had spent most of my adult life at UT, either as a student or as an educator. (I am a PhD. drop-out. That was a good choice for me.) I was never tenured tracked. My title was Clinical Professor when I retired, a fancy term for practitioners who teach.
I have been married and divorced twice. I have one son, Colin Bain McClelland, who, after a very unconventional career path, now lives in Seattle and works for Microsoft. I am very proud of the person and man he is.
My only sibling, Thada Bain, and I recently moved into the same retirement community in Austin. I love having her close, and we are so glad we made the decision to move here at this time of our lives. We each have our own separate apartments, and we are enjoying new friends and activities.
At 78 years of age, I am enjoying still being active, still having some of my mind, and still having lots to look forward to. Thada and I have travelled extensively since I retired. We had just returned from Patagonia right before Covid hit. We are slowing down the travel now except for smaller, easier trips.
I will always be grateful for my sister and son, for friends who have hung in there with me through the years, and for my good health. Every day is a gift I do not take for granted.