50 Years - Memories including Tears
I was lucky enough this past weekend to be able to attend my 50th University Reunion - in Madison, Wisconsin. This writing relates to my experiences.
Five years ago I moved from Seattle to Chicago. I (falsely as it turned out) presumed that my friendship with a man I will call H, would be my most meaningful bond in Chicago, besides that with my son and his family. H - indicated - in communication that I read with confusion and disappointment - that as we get older, we pull back from our ties with friends, and only maintain those that are most important to us. My feelings are that as I get older, every year I lose friends from my past, or fear the loss of them, and that keeping up the ties is most important for me!
Though my bonds with college friends is minimal, due to how I've been with friendships in general, I was very happy when KV - reached out to me about a month ago and said: "George, are you coming to our 50th Reunion? I'm coming with a new close friend." I checked with my partner, looked at airfares, and within a few minutes, my trip to Madison and Chicago was On.
Much of the presentations was quite interesting, particularly the professor's talk which focused upon the popular music of 1973, and how it related to the times. It was wonderful to see KV and to meet his accomplice - JA. It was also great to chat with a few other classmates, none of whom I knew.
|Bucky and Me - October 15, 2023 - before the Disaster (the football game)|
KV, JA, another woman, and I skipped the end of the sessions, and walked along the Lakeshore Path in the drizzle to the Memorial Union. It was great to be at one of my "old homes" there - the pathway in its rustic beauty (tree covered overlooking Lake Mendota). We sat down in the Stiftskeller, by the Rathskeller, another home spot for me as a student. (My tears are starting as I write!). Though we were 50 years older than most there, it was relaxing and wonderful! L - left us - dressed up for the Friday supper event. We watched and listened to some wonderful live jazz, and then headed down State Street, where we found a nice restaurant for dinner.
|KV - in the University Bookstore|
Saturday I started very early, after finding (without being requested) two perfect football tickets at an inexpensive price for my two friends. After an early breakfast at Dennys, I then, later on, met Glenn and his husband for a second breakfast at IHOP. Glenn was a housemate in 1983 - when B, my first spouse and I moved from Chicago to Madison. I always appreciate the times we share together.
The "Tailgate" gathering inside Union South was delightful! I met most of those at my table and enjoyed finding varied common ground with different people. This included JazzFest (New Orleans), Chicago, and more. Mr. Buckminster Badger joined us hear, to the delight of nearly all of us.
|LRS and Bucky|
Monday, I took the 4:00 a.m. Van Galder Bus to O'Hare, The "L" into Chicago and had a nice conclusion of my trip! I had a wonderful hour with my close friend and ally Andy, and had a great time with my beloved granddaughter H.
I very, very much appreciate the opportunities I have to do meaningful things in my life! I especially appreciate my partner B - for agreeing that I could go on this trip!
Madison, and Badgerdom - bring more tears - as I write. Though I wasted so many opportunities as a student, not taking my studies seriously enough, it was an incredible, incredible experience!
Joan Baez - 12,000 cheering students at the Fieldhouse - $2.08 - cost (she only allowed a chart of $2 + tax) - highly, highly unusual, was incredible.
Chicken Little Blues Co-op - which I was a part of was something wonderful for both others students and us!
Hound Dog Taylor - was someone I got to "know" a little! My buddy Wes Race - was his "best (white at least, probably overall) buddy" and I remember being at his flat on Chicago's South Side after college. I also attended his funeral!
Later on I used to regularly see Jimmy Dawkins play at Ma Bea's - at Sacramento and Madison Streets in Chicago.
Our big triumph was: Howlin Wolf and Mississippi Fred McDowell at Union Theater. We thought that Wolf might not live long, however McDowell was the one who died July 3, 1972, not that much later on. I used to occasionally see Wolf play at Big Duke's - on Madison (also) near Ma Bea's. I remember the staff member telling me that Wolf cost $2.00 - other artists were $1.00 + the expectation of one or more drinks.
1969-1970 - was my most notable year at UW! I lived on the 2nd Floor (Callahan House) in Sellery Hall. There was rooftop - outside our windows, from the extended part of the first floor. They were preparing the site for what became Vilas Hall across Johnson Street.
Just after we arrived for school, the Republican lead legislature cut AFDC benefits. Just as the campus disturbances were starting to lighten, foolish Governor Knowles - panicked - and called out the National Guard. Students - and others - tour off - the wood planks around the construction site - and set fire to them - closing down Johnson street outside our windows.
Tear gas canisters - landed on the roof outside of our rooms!
Then early in 1970, the teaching assistants in the newly formed union (historic occasion) went on strike. We had no classes (the Engineers still had classes) for a good 6+weeks.
Then May 4, 1970 at Kent State University and May 15, 1970 at Jackson State University - there were campus killings of students by the police. This was the final class stoppage - and very traumatic!
Summer, 1971 - I wasn't there that early morning - but there was The Army Math Research Center Bombing, with one tragic death - the largest political bombing in U.S. History - up until Oklahoma City - years later.
Most things - weren't so dramatic! I wish - that I had heard of Magic Sam - and had stayed up and gone to see him at 12:45 a.m. - after the liquor sales stopped - at The Nitty Gritty - the last weekend of his life. I think that he was the greatest modern blues guitarist - dead of a heart attack December 1, 1969 - at the age of 32! The picture below - is of an earlier show at the Gritty.
I'm crying as I finish this writing! So many memories - most of them positive to wonderful of this period of my life! I left Madison I think in November, 1973 for Chicago - and blues music there. In early, 1983 my first spouse and I moved to Madison (for me again). My son was born in St. Mary's Hospital in Madison on my 36th birthday in 1987. In May, 1989- the three of us moved west to Oakland, California.
Thanks for listening! Feedback (including pictures to add) most welcome!