“I finished basic training and came home (to Schenectady) a few days before graduation. I was the only private in the Regular Army in uniform at my graduation.”
Barber was then ordered to Korea in June 1946. Although hostilities with the Japanese had ended many months earlier, Barber still remembers with clarity coming off the transport ship and nearly “rubbing elbows” with Japanese soldiers as they boarded an outgoing ship en route to their homeland.
His stay in Korea was short-lived, however. He had enlisted for two years, but by the end of 1946, doctors discovered that he had tuberculosis, and he was sent home to spend the next nine months in a Denver hospital.
He was later transferred to Sunmount Hospital in Tupper Lake before finally being discharged and returning to Schenectady.
“A father of one of my friends saw me with my new car (that he had purchased with money he had saved during his enlistment), and he told me I better get in my car and drive up to Plattsburgh and enroll in class,” he said of the final link that would bring him to Champlain College.
“I respected what he had to say,” he said. “I drove up on Friday, found the administration office, and they told me to be here Monday morning.”
During his first year at Champlain, he lived in a single dorm room on campus because of his recent bout with tuberculosis. After returning from summer vacation in Schenectady for his second year, he learned that the room had not been saved for him, and he had to scramble to find a place to live.
“I looked around and found the greatest house in Plattsburgh,” he said of the home he would eventually stay in for the remainder of his college days. That house is across the road from where he finally settled down with his wife and raised his family.