...Be cheerful, sir.
Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits and
Are melted into air, into thin air;
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve,
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep...
--from William Shakespeare's The Tempest, 4.1--
Last Saturday, Hubby and I decided to revisit some old stomping grounds we have trod many times over the years. We drove to Carbondale and stopped for a late lunch at Melange, formerly just a coffeehouse and now a delightful little bistro with outdoor seating and a fragrant herb garden. It serves up a reasonably priced menu quite different from the usual college-town fare of pizza and subs. Among other things, it includes a variety of tapas (served after 4 p.m., I believe), bison burgers (meat supplied locally), and herb-flavored cocktails.
Since we had both filled up on the 1/2-pound bison burgers and sweet potato fries (freshly cut and prepared with a tempura batter), instead of taking to the Campus Lake trail at SIU, we decided to try tooling around the lake in a paddleboat. We would still get some exercise but at a more leisurely, sit-down kind of pace. Besides, renting one only costs a dollar per hour. That is cheap entertainment for low-budget people like us.
Hubby let me take the pictures so he could man the rudder, or whatever that thing that steers the boat is called.
Several of the student residence halls surround the lake. I asked Hubby if he had ever wanted to live in one of them. He responded with a resounding "never." The students who lived around the lake had a reputation for extreme partying, and he was a serious student. When I met him, he was seriously considering either changing his major (geology) or dropping out of school. I convinced him to stick with it, and I guess he is thankful now that he did.
We did not see too many people out on the lake or anywhere else on campus and wondered if the students were on some sort of break. It's hard to believe that they could be holed up in their rooms or in the library studying on such a beautiful day.
The resident ducks were sure enjoying the day and didn't seem to mind sharing the lake with us.
I guess our stamina ain't what it used to be, and we headed back to the dock before the hour was even up. The day was rather warm, and Hubby was looking a bit done-in. He had only a few hours of sleep the previous night and was expecting to pull an all-nighter at the drilling rig.
I like to see that the campus landscapers are including some color and variety in their plantings. When we attended school here in the late 70s, the campus was a showplace. My dad told me that Delyte Morris, president of the school from 1948 to 1970, was largely responsible for making sure that many beautiful trees, flower beds, and winding trails from which to admire them would grace the campus. I would bet that his wife had some input on that decision.
I think I mentioned that I remember goldenrod, or Solidago, growing on campus. I did find some right next to the lake. According to my Essential Oils Desk Reference, goldenrod has throughout the ages been relied upon for its usefulness as a diuretic, anti-inflammatory, anti-hypertensive, and liver stimulant. Historically, it even played a role in the colonists' resistance to British taxation. When English tea was dumped in Boston Harbor during the famous Boston Tea Party, colonists drank goldenrod tea to fill the gap, and it earned the nickname "Liberty Tea." I wonder if the name also had something to do with its diuretic properties besides aiding in the quest for freedom from government intervention.
Historically, SIU has seen its fair share of important people too, including R. Buckminster Fuller. His work in design revolutionized humans' potential for creating affordable housing. He had some wonderful ideas and even tried to live by them. In 1960, he built a prototype Geodesic dome house in Carbondale that he and his wife lived in while he taught design at SIU. The dome pictured above is based loosely on his design, providing shelter for picnickers (and sometimes amorous college students), as well as reminding campus visitors of SIU's one-time connection to a genuine genius. According to one site I found, Bucky's dream for the liberation of the mortgage-strapped homeowner was doomed by design. Apparently, "the steady growth of the multi-national-corporate system was working against him. People were indebted to the system and could not afford to support ideas that cut across the grain of the mainstream society being developed in America at that time. Domes were springing up everywhere, but their mainstream acceptance was thwarted when mortgage and insurance companies failed to offer products to serve the growing dome home market. Unions disliked buildings that went up in one or two days; it was better for the workers when it took six weeks to put up a house." Several articles I've read blame unrest (Vietnam War and civil rights) at SIU-C in the late 60s for Bucky's decision to leave campus and shift his work elsewhere, but I wonder if the locally lukewarm, or perhaps hostile, reception for his ideas convinced him to move. A certain "backward" presence in Southern Illinois may account for what appears to be intimidation to outsiders and forward thinkers.
Strangely enough, Bucky's notion of doing "so much with so little" to create sturdy, affordable housing has taken a strange twist with the latest attempt to preserve his very own prototypical home. Fundraising efforts are underway right now to save the deteriorating home in Carbondale and maintain it as a monument to his genius. According to the dedicated people involved in the preservation efforts, only 350,000 dollars is needed to save the home from certain demise. I'm sure Bucky would not be so appreciative of those efforts. He would probably prefer that more dome homes be built in his honor.
Or maybe he would prefer that the neglected agriculture department at SIU receive some kind of new home, dome-like if possible. This building looked old and dilapidated when we were students in the late 70s. I guess the powers that be think most of the students are outdoors most of the time anyway. What do they need with a new building?
As Hubby and I continued our walk around campus, we came upon an interesting sculpture in front of one of the Life Science buildings. I guess it's supposed to represent life. I'm not sure.
The communications building design seems to communicate a lack of imagination.
At least there are signs now to point the way to confused campus visitors. In the old days, you might be lucky to get a hand-drawn map from your student advisor.
Now this garden looks a little more like a representation of life to me. Click on it to find out who's responsible.
Please don't think I'm a total troglodyte. I do appreciate art and particularly sculpture. Hubby and I found these sculptures quite handy as backrests when sitting outside on nice days to study notes or just stare into each other's eyes.
We were "here" too, Mr. Vergette. I'm glad you had the vision to create something meaningful.
The campus is still quite beautiful, almost park-like in appearance.
Pulliam Hall is one of its landmark buildings with a functioning clock tower.
Morris Library, named for SIU's most productive president, promises to become a world-class learning center. I thought it already was. Maybe its long-awaited coffee bar now under construction will help it become even better.
A corner garden (no credit given) brightens an otherwise drab concrete walkway that leads to another old and somewhat dilapidated building on campus. Judging from the shape and design of its windows, you can probably guess that it has some kind of connection to either the arts...
...or religion. If you consider the condition of the buildings, you can probably guess that both of those venerable pursuits seem to be poorly funded now at this forward-thinking campus.
Altgeld Hall is the most unique building on campus and is home to the music department. Though I have not been inside it for quite some time, I found a site that explores an inner sanctum there and in other buildings that was never accessible to me, or to any other female for that matter.
This building across the street from Altgeld shatters the vision of artistic achievement previously in sight.
We used to call it Pro-Faner Hall, for obvious reasons. It's an ugly, concrete monstrosity.
It's a rabbit's warren of confusion, and if you ever try to use one of the maps provided, you will understand what I mean.
At least someone tried to soften the harsh lines of the building with some greenery and some flowering shrubs, which I think are crepe myrtle.
I think the design for this building was conceived in the Cold War era, when public buildings were expected to withstand atomic blasts. This one probably would.
This building, Parkinson Hall, houses the department my husband came to call home during his four years here. He spent many hours toiling over boxes of rocks in its geology labs and falling asleep to lectures given by old fossil professors.
Once in a while, if the weather is nice, you might find a student pondering his or her fate here in the meditation area outside the Student Center.
When the weather got chilly, I always found the inside areas more interesting, like this mosaic wall on the south end of the building. Hubby found out years ago that the knobs sound quite interesting if you rap your knuckles on them. Several of them appear to have been rapped with more than necessary force.
We miss the Big Muddy Room that used to be downstairs. There was a cozy, dimly lit cafe that served the best Italian beef sandwiches, and you could play ping-pong for hours...
...where the arts-and-crafts shop now stands. I guess commerce wins out over students-who-skip-class-to-play-ping-pong.
The Neckers Complex just south of the Student Center used to have this fun wind tunnel between what used to be its two main buildings, A and B. You could always count on a cold blast knocking your hat, scarf, or maybe even socks off on most winter days. I wonder if the designer planned it that way. I bet he/she was from Chicago and figured out a way to capture part of the Windy City's essence.
Across the street from Neckers is an updated relic of Bucky's design known as the Arena. It is home to the SIU Salukis basketball team, and at certain times of the year, graduates have been known to accept their "sheepskins" here. We have several SIU-C sheepskin recipients in our immediate and extended family.
We ended our rather lengthy trek across campus at the group of buildings where I once worked as a student-secretary. The office of Educational Leadership used to be here but has since been commandeered by the Engineering Department. We always felt a little out of place, anyway, tucked in the corner of the building that once also housed the coal research scientists. I wonder if they ever figured out a way to clean up that stinky, high-sulfur coal and convince everybody that it won't cause acid rain out east? A more acceptable product sure would come in handy right now. And some of Bucky's ideas would too.
...Sir, I am vexed.
Bear with my weakness. My old brain is troubled.
Be not disturbed with my infirmity.
If you be pleased, retire into my cell
And there repose. A turn or two I'll walk
To still my beating mind...
--from The Tempest, 4.1--