2018 has been an exceptional year for travel. Time and energy has usually resulted in no more than two journeys away from home in any 12-month span. However, we remained in State College throughout 2017, to care for the gentlemanly KC, our elderly rescue poodle. This third trip, sandwiched between our long vacation in Europe and a short southern tour, allowed us to reconnect with seldom-seen friends and a 50-years-since-graduation visit to my alma mater.
Our first stop was the lovely Maumee riverbank home of a friend from my/our graduate school years at Kansas State. Some good things never change.
Betty and her apartment mate Elaine came to our rescue in August 1970. We had arrived in Manhattan – a name that defines irony – a week before classes. Our car had blown up on an earlier attempt to visit Manhattan, to obtain housing. Thus, we arrived homeless, only to confront religion-based housing discrimination. During the days it took us to secure a rental, in the only neighborhood that admitted any minorities, Betty-and-Elaine welcomed us into their basement apartment. Forty-eight years later, Betty made us feel at home, again. Friends may age; friendships never get old.
Then it was on to Ann Arbor. We were following up on an invitation to spend a day on campus, courtesy of the University of Michigan Library. I chose two places to visit.
We started with Hill Auditorium. More accurately, we started by parking, in the center of campus, legally and at no charge, during Arts Festival. For any Michigan graduate, this comes as close to a miracle as human forces can grant.
Hill is one of my favorite places in the world. In four too-short years, I saw and heard numerous great performances, from Marian Anderson’s penultimate recital to a Motown Review (Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, Martha and the Vandellas, and Marvin Gaye). When we arrived, the house manager greeted us, took us to center stage, and spent most of an hour reviewing the changes from the recent renovation.
Next, we received a personal tour of the University of Michigan Library preservation and conservation services. The preservation facilities are off campus, a short block from my senior-year apartment. The visit was fascinating. However, because Theresa knows Penn State library staff, who know the Michigan staff well, I – the visiting alumnus – became an interested bystander.
Toronto was the third and final stop. We became friends with a family from South African in the early 1990s. The youngest of the three children is now married and recently emigrated, with her spouse Shaun and son Joshua, to Canada. We last saw Eve, at her brother’s wedding, in Paarl, South Africa, in 2016, before she relocated.
We had plans for a day+ of tours. Joshua-the-toddler had his own, probably better, plans.
Photographs follow. I cannot take credit for the Hill Auditorium exterior or the view of the house, from above. Both are from the University archives.