I came to the University of Texas at Austin in 1965 as a graduate student and lived on less than $100 a month. I rented an apartment at 2513 1⁄2 Rio Grande—I’d never heard of an address with a half in it before—and did my time at Scholz Garten and Lake Austin Inn and all sorts of places. I was enchanted by the idea of Texas; that’s why I went there. One afternoon my roommate and I decided we wanted to have dinner in El Paso. So we got in a car and left Austin, but nobody told us it was like seven thousand miles away. We hadn’t checked the map. We were both from the part of the country where you can go through three or four states before you get to El Paso. So we drove and drove and drove and finally ended up in Junction. We stopped there and had chicken-fried steak for dinner, and the proprietor of the restaurant asked us, “What are y’all doing out here?” “Nothing,” we said. “We’re just going to El Paso.” He must have guessed we were from the university.

Brooklyn native William J. Bennett lived in Austin off and on from 1965 to 1970 and earned a Ph.D. in philosophy at UT-Austin. He served as the Secretary of Education during the Reagan administration and the director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy during the Bush administration and is currently the co-director of Empower America, a conservative think tank. A best-selling author, Bennett has two books due out this fall: The Index of Leading Cultural Indicators and The Educated Child.?