Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Maryland--You Can't Go Home Again

By Chuck

Today is simply an exercise in nostalgia for me; accordingly, you are excused from further reading.

I attended the University of Maryland as a graduate student in Philosophy many years ago.  I last saw the campus 42 years ago.  Since we are passing through anyway, I had decided to see how things had changed over the years.  They had.

The entrance is far more grand than what I remember.  But, this is definitely an improvement.

Our first view of the campus--a green area where we used to play football. 

Rossborough Inn, on campus, was built about 1804 and I imagine it had a front row view of the War of 1812, wherein the White House and Capitol were burned by the British.

Ritchie Colesium.  This was the venue, on one occasion circa 1965, for a forum on issues concerning--as I recall--good, evil and the question "Could the horrors of Nazi Germany ever occur here?"  It was thrilling to hear intellectuals of the day--including Hannah Arendt and Norman Podhoretz--debate weighty issues.  Arendt was a political theorist (and philosopher) who escaped from Nazi Germany & Paris and who spoke to the 'banality of evil.'  Podhoretz was for many years editor-in-chief of Commentary magazine.

The Dairy & Visitors Center.  The Dairy looks different; but, they still sell delicious and creamy ice cream.  I had Coffee Chip, yesterday, and Fear the Turtle, today.  Unfortunately, we are eating at a real restaurant, tonight, so I will be unable to have another helping.  I loved that the Visitors Center, in the same building, has 5 minute parking so you can get information.  In our experience, other campuses are not so helpful.  But, we were able to walk from our motel, today.


Memorial Chapel.  I associate this building with 3 memories:  1. My first year here, I was on my way to the Chapel to hear The Messiah at Christmas, when I both feet came from out under me and I landed flat on my back before I knew what happened.  2. The organ for that recital was awesome, in that limited space, filled with so many people.  3. I joined a book-discussion group associated with this interdenominational church.  I was looking both for variety of intellectual content and personal contact, not religious instruction.  Since our department's idea of Philosophy was pretty much the analysis of language, and most people interested in the subject at that time were looking for a values-based approach that wasn't traditionally religious.  Also, I had never been out of California before coming here--except for Tiajuana and the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe--so, I was alone and lonely.  I got to read some Existentialist works by Kierkegaard, Kafka and others.


Approaching Skinner Hall, home to the Department of Philosophy

Skinner Building, front view

Old grad student with former professor and advisor, John Brown.  We had a nice chat with Professor Brown, who is 81, still teaches one class per year and has focused on aesthetics from a philosophical perspective in his teaching and writing for many years. 

Off to explore the rest of the campus

 McKeldin mall, looking toward the library

The Omicron Delta Kappa Fountain, with quotes from FDR and MLK, Jr.  This was not here in 1970, but it is a lovely addition.  That is McKeldin Library in the background.

 The Sundial is a gift from the class of 1965.  But, it had not been installed while I was here.  Nice touch.

 McKeldin Library

Student docents telling prospective freshmen about the campus tradition:  It is good luck to pat the nose of the campus mascot, a bronze Terrapin named Testudo.

Notice that even cyclists honor the tradition.  I remember watching an undergraduate student with severely impaired vision, when I was here, walk out of the library every single night, stand in front of the terrapin, and salute it with his white cane, with briefcase in his other hand and his giant monocular tucked under his arm.  It was quite touching.  I have often wondered what ever became of him.

Claire was impressed with the campus topography.  We did note that there were no bike lanes on campus, though there were occasional bike racks.  Also, the campus runs along a major highway--US 1--on one side; bicyclists traveling that route must compete with pedestrians for space.

About to enter the Student Union, I stop for a chat with Jim Henson and friend.  He graduated from here a few years before I arrived.

Student Union

I did not eat at the White Castle burger joint very often; but, it had cheap food and long hours; I am sorry to see it gone--the logo is missing at the top and there is a 'For Lease' sign in the window.

 Greek Row, a horseshoe of 14 fraternity and sorority houses

Couple with two fresh haircuts

 Closer view of Greek Row--there seem to be two types of building, some with 4 pillars, others with 6

Fear the Turtle is both an ice cream and a sports motto at UMD.  They bite ferociously, but can they run?

Almost all buildings had changed from the inside.  The library was unrecognizable, as was the Student Union interior.  There were no computers back then, just desks for studying; I did have a locking carrel to myself, which allowed me to stash books, safely, and sleep without being noticed.

There are many new buildings, of course, and the whole campus seems just outsized.  There are roads that have been expanded or even created.  I am certainly glad I came; but, it's true:  You can't go home again.

But, we can go out to dinner again--and we did.  I decided that Claire deserved a nice dinner, so I scouted out the Calvert House Inn, exquisite seafood--a Maryland tradition since 1963.  She had a warm shrimp cocktail appetizer, shared with Chuck; the Cajun Tilapia; a cup of seafood chowder; a calcuminto salad - cucumber, fresh mint, tomato and onion in a light oil and vinegar dressing; and, for dessert, a raspberry mousse torte!  Wine was a Pinot Grigio.

I had mostly the same, but my entree was A Symphony of Seafood--Broiled selection of:  a crab cake, a stuffed oyster, petite fish filet, two sea scallops and two shrimp.  My dessert was a passion fruit mousse torte.  We should do this more often.

The time spent learning lasts a lifetime.  ~ Anonymous (Quote from plaque on UMD sundial)