As I mentioned in my previous post, the U of M tour sparked a ton of memories for me of my days there. Most of them were positive, good memories. My wife and I were talking and agreed that our college days were some of the best of our lives. You're on your own, (even though I was living at home), you don't have the burden of a mortgage (again, living at home) and you are past the awkward high school years. Life is good.
When we toured Coffman Memorial Union, I told Sarah that when I was there, one of the bigger perks was the Music Listening Center. You could choose an LP you wanted to hear, and depending on the backlog, the DJ would tell you a channel to tune to and you would hear your record. Or, if you preferred, you could listen to one of the other 9 LP's being played. They gave you a nice set of Koss headphones and you got a small desk to sit at and work on homework or just relax. In light of today's iPod craze, it seems a little bit bizarre, but you have to realize that this was before the days of the Sony Walkman. Portable music just wasn't. It was a cool lounge and I used it frequently my first couple years.
I pointed Ford Hall out to Sarah and told her that was where all of my Anthropology classes were. (Yes I actually double majored in it, along with Geography.) Because I was in the Anthropology Club, I have a bunch of great memories from that building too. (In fact, in 1985 I was president of the club, a real resume builder there!)
I remember the basement of Ford Hall held a fair amount of archaeological artifacts, including some pre-contact Native American remains. At the time I graduated, there was a legal battle to see that the remains were returned to the native tribes so they could be returned to sacred ground. As an anthropology student who saw the value in studying the remains I had a problem with the thought of reburying them. As a humanitarian, I had a BIGGER problem with someone's ancestors sitting in the basement of a University. I think justice was served and the tribes eventually won the legal dispute.
The student mall reminded me of the times Brother Jed and Sister Cindy would preach fire and brimstone in front of Northrup Auditorium. They would get jeered and debated by the cynical students. It was good entertainment albeit maybe a big disservice to the Christian cause.
The other memorable Mall moment happened on the lawn in front of Coffman when I was crossing the bridge, at precisely 1:00 one day a large crowd that was gathered all dropped to the ground when someone sounded a siren. It was meant to depict a nuclear accident, as I recall. This was during the time of the 3 Mile Island nuclear accident, and the activists gathered were trying to make a statement. I will not dispute that it made me stop and wonder for a second. It was really quite eerie. Point taken. Unfortunately, I think it did little to reduce the pursuit of better alternatives for producing power. We're still looking for answers on that one.
There were lots and lots of other memories that were stirred up; too many to list. It seems like yesterday I was there as a student. Now, it's about to be my daughter's turn. It's my hope that she'll like it as much as I did.