austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

Take pictures each step of the way

Saturday we had to get up early because that's when they were doing campus tours. We could suffer for our nostalgia. I had never been to the school before, yes, but bunny_hugger's spoken much about Earlham College and how it affected her life and I knew the names and some of the relations of places at least. We joined into a small pack of people going through, first, the dorm rooms.

Most of the dorms have been renovated into unrecognizability the past two decades. One of them was even closed a year for renovations when bunny_hugger was there. But bunny_hugger's dorm, at least the one she lived in for several years and that she'd sat up at the desk for as a work-study student, hadn't been. There were some changes, yes. The desk she'd sat at for vague security purposes was no longer there, although the phone jack for the telephone was present yet. There were posters warning about the signs and hazards of binge drinking, a major change; back in the day it was a dry campus and drinking was done in private or way out back in the distant fields. But the portrait of the guy the hall was named for was still there, and many of the little things like carpet and partition walls and stuff looked right. We found bunny_hugger's dorm room, at least one of them, or at least what we believe one of them to have been, although the door was closed and if the current occupant was there we didn't bother the person.

We'd have similar visits to other dorms, some of which bunny_hugger had connections to, some of which were just important to the other people in our party. I had that curious feeling of soaking in the familiar atmosphere of college undergraduate life even though the dorms were not, in detail, anything like the places I'd been. I'd had three different dorms from different eras myself (renovated barracks left over from World War II, mid-60s, and late-80s halls) before going to grad school. I understood the architectural language at least.

The tour guide took us to the new science building, the one I'd thought was a 60s construction. It's quite new, with shiny white tables and whiteboard surfaces over everything. Walls, doors, desks, everything. It's apparently part of the study-group culture they're trying to breed, where everybody's writing what comes to their minds and sharing ideas and all. A bunch of kids brought there by parents were delighted by this, as what kid worthy of the name wouldn't like a place where you're given markers and allowed to write over everything?

The science building apparently blends all the science and mathematics departments together. It's a little unsettling to me not to see, like, separate halls for the mathematics and the physics professors, but considering it's a small school trying to press its STEM program maybe that's survivable. I noticed many of the mathematics jokes written on the boards and waited, to this day, for anyone to ask me to explain them. Also I noticed an electrical dry riser was labelled as N Bourbaki's office, so, yeah, they asked the science and mathematics folks for input into the new construction.

Also among the new buildings we toured: the new arts center. It's got wings for all the major branches of performing and craft arts. Also it's got little stencilled rats-or-mice among the baseboards and hanging out by the electrical fixtures. I'm not sure if that's a current students' art project or if it's just a bit of the whimsy they hope to bring to their work. The mouse rats are labelled ``Eleven In The Wall'', but that doesn't pin down what the origin is. We also noticed pins for the college's Theatre Arts program, which features a silhouetted squirrel with a long cape and one of those muse-of-comedy masks in its hand. Among the changes at Earlham in two decades have been squirrels transitioning from object of student fascination to might-as-well-be-official icons of the school. bunny_hugger would buy an Earlham College squirrel plush from the bookstore, a souvenir that fits her more cautious rules about what plush will be brought to the home.

That was as far, I think, as the organized tour went. We'd go out on our own for some of the other public spaces.

Trivia: The best November 1977 estimates for shuttle completion projected that the orbiter Enterprise would go into service at 160,000 pounds. Columbia would weight 158,000 pounds. The vehicle that would be Challenger would come in at 155,000 pounds; Discovery and Atlantis, 151,000 pounds. Source: Development of the Space Shuttle 1972 - 1981, T A Heppenheimer.

Currently Reading: 1919: The Year Our World Began, William K Klingaman.


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