Friday, March 25, 2011
Quarterly, I get a magazine, Columns, from the old hallowed halls of my alumni with mostly articles and information of which I am uninterested: “Professors’ Work Selected by Education Council,” “Storytelling Event Garners Honor,” or “Students Learn by Serving.”
This Spring Issue, however, had a two page article on the freshman dorm, Hawkes Hall, which turned 100 years old.
“Happy Birthday, Hawkes” reads the headline and then an unnamed author proceeds to give a short history of a very old building with interviews and comments from former occupants.
Aww. Hawkes Hall. I did some time there. Nine months -- got out on good behavior and moved to the New Dorm; yes, we called it the new dorm because it was NEW and had freakin’ air conditioning.
I’m sure the New Dorm had a name. Maybe.
Some old rich alumni?
I dunno. Long time ago.
I attended LaGrange College from 1972 to 1976. In those days, the college years averaged four -- or maybe that’s just how much my parents budgeted. I was told I had four years to get it done.
LaGrange College is a four-year liberal arts and sciences college affiliated with the United Methodist Church. Located in the booming town [except not “booming” when I was there] of LaGrange, Georgia, the college is the oldest private institution of higher learning in Georgia and averages an enrollment of about a 1,000.
That includes Townies, but that’s for another blog.
When I moved in to Hawkes Hall Room 214 as a member of the freshman class in the fall of 1972, I looked around in amazement. The place practically wreaked of a by-gone time.
Really? No air conditioning? Toilets that far down the hall? Roaches? Maybe mice? Ghosts? Argh.
Where am I? I stepped out of Atlanta into this?
But. There was room.
After having seen the door rooms of my siblings at University of Virginia and Mercer, these seemed like, well, rooms -- not sleeping cocoons from 2001 Space Odyssey.
Two tall windows flanked the south end of the room I was assigned, and by those windows was a functioning sink and mirror. Since the room was on the east end and an end room, right outside my room was a metal fire escape.
* fires? *
Looming hugely in that room on that east end was a glass blocked window with wavy patterns, its insert leaving a small ledge, for right outside hung those metal steps of the fire escape. Many a night, I would hear its light clanging as a girl sneaked stealthily up those stairs after curfew.
Not me, of course.
Two single beds, with flat mattresses, Army issue, lay end to end under the glass blocked window, and two built in closets without doors were on either side of the entrance door from the hallway.
On the west wall -- two metal desks and two rickety chest of drawers set ready to be filled with the nonsense of two, giggly freshman girls. [Gosh, I'm writing like Hemingway with all those twos.]The floors, hardwood, were noisy as our wedge heels and platform shoes, so fashionable at the time, clomped back and forth.
Regardless, our assigned dorm room, seemed humongous with its ten foot ceilings and floor space --- enough room in 214 to do the Virginia Reel with Rhett Butler. The hallways, painted a light yellow, boasted crown molding and wide pine plank flooring, and its girth --- wide enough to drive a Volkswagen Beetle. In the middle of each hallway was a single pay phone and a bathroom with three showers and four stalls.
Hawkes Hall is an edifice -- the appropriate word for a building of this size and stature. Its brick façade, like a fading film star, sat on a top of a hill and showed wear and tear around its edges.
Its front entrance, with its wide veranda, led to a foyer which housed on the left the apartment of our kind, but vigilante, Mrs. Glynn, the house mother. On the right, the parlor, a worn out room with seedy sofas and ratty, overstuffed chairs worked as a combination common room as well as an appropriate place for freshman girls to entertain “gentleman callers.” Circular stains from the popular Coke bottle marked the occasional tables and showed a less than kind treatment by a girl who had absent-mindly left her drink there as she gossiped or pretended to study in its cool environs….
but the suggestion of decorum and behavior, with its heavily draped windows, reigned in that old parlor. If a freshman girl was to meet her date for the first time, that was the room. When the young man arrived, announced and greeted by the house mother, another freshman girl or even our house mother would use the in house phone to call up to the lucky girl‘s floor: "Your date is here."
*holds moment of silence*
In respect for this ancient ritual, those of us, with no date sitting in the common room and commiserating with other dateless gals, would gather up our books, the detritus of us, and scamper out -- dare we be seen gaping or spying on that desired event.
Hawkes Hall belonged to a by-gone era, but its historical presence on campus with its airy rooms, its metal fire escapes, its outdated parlor, and grand entrance made it a memorable place to begin my life as a college student.
Happy Birthday, indeed, Hawkes, you old girl.