25 May 2008

All (they) are is dust in the wind

A big piece of my life went tumbling early this morning:

My old dormitory at Arkansas State University, my alma mater, is now history. Its full name was Seminole Twin Towers, although it was more commonly referred to as Twin Towers. Affectionately to us students who lived there, it was either just "Twin", or the ubiquitous "Twin Toilets." Nine stories above the flatness of the Delta and the geographic anomaly Crowley's Ridge. Twin was built in 1967 to house the stampede of male students coming out of Vietnam, and from August 1984 through December 1987, it was my college home. I had the same room the entire time: 810.
From that window, I had a great view toward the west-southwest ... I could see Caraway Road out front, as well as the Post Office, Wilson Hall, part of the Carl Reng Center ... and, in the distance, the Riceland Foods mill - which resembled a batch of skyscrapers of a city in the farthest horizon.

At night, from my bed, I could look out the window and see the strobe lights from the towers of both TV stations in town. KAIT's flashed a little more frequently than the Jonesboro AETN affil, but sometimes they'd be in perfect synch. I can't think of the number of times I'd be talking on the phone to a friend while looking out the window at those towers.

I had no roommate the entire time (my parents assumed both my brother and I were going to attend college in Alabama, and planned for that ... I threw 'em a curveball and went in-state. So they graciously sprung for the private room each semester). The room was rather tiny, smaller than the illustrious Music Room® from which I sit. Still, it was enough room to hold all my earthly possessions ... including a pretty decent, and growing, music collection.

In the video a lot of cheering can be heard after the structure is obliterated. Many are happy to see its demise. I can't speak for 2005, or even 1995, but in 1985 Twin Towers wasn't a half bad place to rest my in-shape, fit, 180-pound self. No, it wasn't a luxurious condo, and yes the hallways resembled a prison .... but it was home. And I liked it.

Here's a cool fact: I bought my first CD player in August of 1986, and when the semester started, I learned that I was the first student in any of the dorms to have a CD player. More than a few students got their first-ever listen to a compact disc in Room 810. The song I'd most often demo? "Why Can't This Be Love" by Van Halen. The fade-in opening came out of nowhere. Minds were blown. High technology, and this Gleckoid was on the cutting edge!

Bolivar (who lived off-campus) paid me hundreds of visits, with plenty of fun, music and conversation way into the night. Friends like Lance, Adam, Jody, Mark, and others come to mind as well. It was a great time to be alive.

Time with girlfriends were also plentiful. There was "Ruth" ... Deborah ... and of course Lynda.

I can say I was blessed to have had such a memorably good college experience.

Twin in the distance from Marshall Street near the College of Communications Building
Taken February 27, 2006. The black arrow points to my room window.

Another relic: the signage along Aggie Road.

Here are some other stream-of-conscious memories:
  • My phone number throughout my time there was 501/972-3477.

  • "Quiet hours" beginning at 11:00 p.m.. That's why headphones were my best friend.

  • At 1 AM, you knew not to knock on Talmadge Gleck's door. Because he would not hear you (see above). Take a magazine, newspaper, album cover, whatever and stick underneath the door and move it back and forth to get my attention.

  • There were cockroaches. Plenty. What college dorm doesn't have 'em?

  • On the 8th floor, the la cucaracha were smaller and fewer. And manageable.

  • Also, the radio reception was pretty good that high up in the air over the flat terrain. I could get most all the Little Rock stations, and some in north Mississippi as well.

  • 98.5 was a funny one. The one in Little Rock came in ... unless I stood on a chair and touched the right-hand side of the dipole antenna, and then I'd instead get 98.5 out of Tupelo, Miss. Every time.

  • "How often does the train go by?" "So often you won't even notice it." ASU is bordered to the south by two major railroad arterials.

  • That's why I'm such a deep sleeper today.

  • I walked on broken glass in that building. With my bare feet. Ask and I shall explain.

  • My afternoon routine was to spread a towel on my bed, open a Coke or (horrors!!) a beer and a can of Peanut Patch boiled peanuts. I didn't have bowls or anything, so I just spread 'em on the towel and used the empty can for the shells. At 4:00 after Little House on the Prairie on Channel 5, Divorce Court came on. For whatever sick reason I enjoyed watching it. Then it was Jeopardy! at 4:30. That was appointment TV during those days.

  • Lance would come into my room* usually around the time of "Double Jeopardy" and watch it with me, and then at 5:00 we'd go over to the Woodlands and eat supper.

  • Lance said the same thing to me each time I was eating boiled peanuts: "How can you EAT those things??!!"

  • * = There was an unspoken and highly respected rule: if you felt like socializing, you left your door open. If your door was closed, it was assumed you wanted or needed privacy (for whatever reason[s], studious, carnal or otherwise) and were left alone.

  • During the afternoon, if I were drinking a Coke, the door would be wide open. If I were enjoying a Miller Lite, the door would be barely cracked.

  • Speaking of Jeopardy! above, the local ABC station (KAIT) aired it at 5:00. Same show. Sometimes Lance and I would go to supper later, and watch it with a couple other friends.

  • It took 'em awhile before they figured out why Lance and I both always seemed to know "Final Jeopardy" :-D

  • Twin had "community bathrooms", two on each floor, one on each side of the elevators.

  • Fortunately, the showers were partitioned.

  • Also fortunately, each room in Twin had sinks.

  • I bought lots and lots of "Comet."

  • Why? (TMI alert!!!) Because instead of taking a hike down to aforementioned community bathroom, I used it as a urinal.

  • And I was NOT the only one who did this, either. In fact, most of us did.

  • The air conditioning in Twin Towers was, in a word, awesome. Perfect for a hot-natured soul such as I.

  • There were four (4) elevators in Twin. I had another name for 'em: The Screeching Lifts. They often made grinding and scraping noises as they went up or down. Remember those, Bolivar?

  • They malfunctioned as often as my old '93 Chevy Corsica. I knew whenever I saw the Dover Elevator truck parked next to the south end, I'd better go ahead and prime myself for a long walk up.

  • Did I mention I weighed about 100 pounds less during those days? Maybe that's a good reason WHY.

  • My room was two doors down from the stairwell. I used that as an exit most of the time. I got to where I could go down 16 flights of stairs in less than 45 seconds. I timed myself a few times, too. Sometimes I even jumped from landing to landing. I kid you not.

  • In 2002, a section of brick exterior on that very stairwell collapsed.
  • I take no responsibility.

  • My parents had friends who managed a liquor store in North Little Rock. From them I was able to score a life-size cutout of Bartles & Jaymes. They were a nifty conversation piece in our wing (each floor wing at Twin was like its own community).

  • The 9th floor was the "forbidden lair." It was home to the various high-intellect international students. Quiet hours were enforced 24/7 on that top level.

  • Speaking of "hours", girls were supposed to be out of the boys' dorms by 11:00 on weeknights and 1:00 on weekends.

  • I felt those restrictions discriminated against heterosexuals. Why come the gay students (and there were more of 'em than you think!) got to quench their all-night urges and we didn't??!!

  • I had a sign on my door for a long time: "I TAKE CASH DONATIONS."

  • For some reason, that was ignored.

The fact is, I first moved into my room on Thursday, 16 August 1984 as my first taste of independence from living at home. I left that room on another Thursday, 17 December 1987 full of piss and vinegar and ready to take on the world as an adult, in spite of the gathering dark storm clouds in the distance called Pine Bluff, Arkansas.

I entered Seminole Twin Towers a child and exited as a man.

In closing, I can't help but smile a little bit at one thing: the wing where I lived ... that leg of Twin Towers was the last to come down. :-)

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "810 reasons I feel sad" Gleck


Melissa said...

AHH the "must see TV" of the college days...
For us it was The Love Boat at 11 am (somehow we managed to not have classes then) followed by Little House on the Prarrie. We were amazed at how so many other stars we knew appeared as guest on the Love Boat! Judge Judy followed The Dukes of Hazzard at 3:30 and 4:00, followed by dinner at 5. (why do college students eat so early? It's like retired folks!)

You had AC in your college dorm? Lucky duck. We had none! I remember it always seemed that I moved in on the hottest day of the whole summer.

Lucky you with the single room! I survived 3 years of roommates before I got smart and took a job as an RA and scored a "super single" - a room built for 2, but with just 1 person. That was 1996 and I have lived alone (and enjoyed it mostly) ever since!

nettiemac said...

I feel your pain, only my dorm is still standing. The very rampant rumor -- not exactly squelched by administration either -- was that the Lodge was coming down the first chance they had.

By God, 17 years later, it's still there. We made a damn good case to the administration and several outside entities of why this dorm was a winner. Or at least I like to think we did.

And it was my first lesson in the power of politics. We formed a student task force committee, and in-state students were encouraged to call their state senators and representatives. My state Senator did little except say, "Well, I'll look into that for you." My state Representative spent 15 minutes on the first phone call asking for specifics. He called me back 3 days later having SPOKEN to the college president and transmitting his deep concern that something foul was afoot. I had a few more concerns, addressed those with him, and he called back 2 days later with another report.

What it all boiled down to is that yes, the Lodge was on a list of possibilities, but so were some other buildings. The College hadn't realized how much attachment there was to the Lodge. And especially given that they'd just torn down The Inn to put up a parking lot (paging Joni Mitchell; Miss Mitchell, your song is needed here)....... well, let's just say the public outcry was stronger than they expected.

In a few years, the State Senator eventually chose to retire, and the Representative ran for her seat. I have voted for him in every election since, and will until he chooses to retire. By taking about an hour out of his week to speak to an upset college student -- who just happened to be a voting constituent -- and then actually DOING something about it, he earned a lifetime of respect and votes.

I saw him a few years afterward, and thanked him. He remembered my call and told me he was willing to help anytime, especially since a lot of Pickens County kids seemed to be heading to C of C. Yep....

Kate/Susan said...

I want to hear the walking on glass story :)

I lived in all 4 dorms my college had to offer, a year and a half on my own, sharing with 3 different roommates during the other two and a half years of my stay at Manhattan College.

UALR, I was on my own in an apartment off McCain Blvd. Wish I had known your B&J pals then :)

Talmadge Gleck said...

McCain Blvd?? You had quite a commute down to UALR! I know, for I did it for two Summers ('86 & '87). We used to live on Dunkeld Drive, not too far from McCain -- over close to the mall.

Every time I think of McCain Blvd., I'm reminded of Peaches Records (independent record store - not connected with the old chain) in that little center at JFK and McCain. Bought many MANY LPs and CDs there during some very happy times.

Kate/Susan said...

If you know Lakewood Hills Apartments, that's where I lived! :-) Right across the street from Kroger. We were on the corner of N. Hills Blvd. and McCain.

It was a bit of a hike to UALR, but it was worth it. My apartment was really nice, only steps from the pool, I was a scant 5 minutes from the 50 cent movie theater...

And Backyard Burgers across the street too :)

Despite the fact I was 99% miserable my entire year there, I DID like my apartment.

Talmadge Gleck said...

Yup. I know exactly where that is. Only, there wasn't a Back Yard Burgers there in the '80s -- I don't think the chain itself was founded until that time -- and back then the Kroger was a Skaggs Alpha Beta. That's where we did our grocery shopping while living in NLR.

Kate/Susan said...

Small world... small world.