Michigan Tech Memories
by Raman Pfaff
Reprinted from V6N1, January 1992
As the proverbial rooster crowed this morning and I made my way to work at the prime hour of 1 P.M., I was shoved back into a swirl of distant memories. For some reason, the weather, or maybe the relative silence, or perhaps just my clothing at the time, I could not help thinking back to the good old days up at MTU. Now that we have new members there, I wonder if they will have the same sort of powerful memories which I do after they too have left and moved ahead with their lives. Just think back to those days....
Winter Mornings:Heating up some leftover Domino's Pizza and stuffing it into your mouth just to keep your body warm and then rushing to put on every article of clothing you own in the hopes that your current warmth would last long enough for you to get to class and then sit next to an extremely noisy heater. The typical morning garb consisted of three pairs of socks, one sweat pants, two t-shirts, one flannel shirt, a pair of insulated leather boots, a pair of jeans, two winter coats, a hat that would cover my whole face, and a really nice warm set of gloves. Oh yeah, I usually had a reasonably clean pair of undies on. I was then ready to venture out. I then went through the back porch, which was exposed to the outdoors, and thus doubled as an outdoor freezer. I said good-bye with a longing to bags full of french fries, pizzas, and pot pies as I made my way into the back alley. Off I went across the major highway which lay between class and myself. Cars - ignore them, those people in them are a lot warmer than I am. An occasional bumper scraping your knee at 40 m.p.h. is an insignificant factor when the wind chill is 97 below.
Spring Afternoons:After walking home from class through the six inches of slush and thinking it used to be 480 inches of snow, I head back to the Palace and heat up some leftover Domino's Pizza for a quick lunch. John and I then go through the mail which had come earlier. We ARE occupants. Such things are very important. However, more important things await. It is the Spring and that only means one thing - we are in dire need of the tan which we desperately need after an MTU winter. The over the porch/tanning salon awaits. This "booth" was the small piece of the house which protruded over a small pantry at the back side of the kitchen (Bork was kept in this pantry.) I put on my shorts and find a nice towel to lay on. Checking the thermometer outside my window I see it is a gorgeous 37 degrees outside. School work can wait on a day like this. The entryway to the ideal tanning area is a window which lies at the back end of a walk-in closet. Making our way through the things which have piled up over the Winter (skis, coats, boxes of Christmas stuff) I come to the window and the most important item we will need before tanning, the shovel. There is still much snow in the salon and several minutes of shoveling in our shorts takes care of the snow. Laying there in slush absorbing photons then becomes the project of the afternoon. Of course, one eye is always squinted open in the search for women doing the same.
Summer Brunchish:A quite time in the quaint small town of Houghton. The living room couch looked out in a panoramic scene of the nicest street you will find in America. Lovely older houses, dogs playing in their yards, and beautiful trees all reaching towards a startlingly blue sky. A nice 72 degrees outside but still just a bit of morning dew here and there. In the summer the most important thing became a single item - mail. John and I would sit there in the living room and wait for that one item. Why we wanted it so badly I do not remember, perhaps statements indicating the amount of financial aid we would receive the following year, or maybe just a catalogue from the "real" world. Sometimes we would wait outside on our front porch and make sure the flag was still in good condition, or even weed our flower garden area to insure that the few flowers we had would show off their vibrance to our neighbors ( a nice old couple ). Our one eye from springtime was still open and for the majority of one summer we got so excited over a girl who had just graduated from high school that lived up the street that we became private eyes and tried to discover where she would be attending college the following year without alerting anyone. Of course that gets us back to where we were before, mailmen often know such things from recent letters going to the house. Soon our stomachs begin to ask for a bite and since we didn't have any pizzas last night we decide to fire up the grill in the back yard. We walk up to Jim's and buy some fine UP cow. It looks good and fresh. We head back home and discuss only those things we see of interest along the way. Women, roadside knick knacks, and new cereals we saw at Jim's. The mailman had somehow avoided us and given us our mail behind our backs. Oh well. The burgers sure tasted fine and soon enough it was time for my one class. I lost my interest in the high schooler at some point and just enjoyed the birds singing and the wind blowing through the leaves past our yard. Fall was getting closer.
Fall Dusk:Class had ended. Stepping out the door of the physics building I feel a slight bite in the air. It feels good. I'd like to bite back. Leaves of a myriad number of colors scatter about my feet like sand in a desert. It is still bright out but I can see that the sun is quickly sinking - it will be a striking sunset. There are people all about me with coats in almost as many colors as the leaves. Conversations abound. It seems crowded compared to the summer, yet delightful in a way to calm a loneliness that develops towards the end of summer. I get home and discuss with whoever is there if they want to get a Domino's Pizza. Eventually someone can live with my combination of toppings and we make the call. Since it is still early in the term nobody feels like studying much at this point and it is easy to get a game of euchre going. This breaks up after a time and it quiets down. I get myself involved in a game of chess. Every game back then had a bet on it. Racquetball, sprints, chess, anything! The winner usually got a free pizza. So my rook captures a knight but I soon find it was a trap. I am checkmated. Well, at least that takes care of dinner tomorrow. Letterman soon comes on and the houseful of us watch it and immensely enjoy everything he does. He is the night-time guru of Comedy. "The Tree" is rocking in his chair quite thoroughly at this point, and that is almost as humorous as Letterman. One more quick pizza snack and the bed is calling. As I try to fall asleep I can hear the wind bringing the colder air into town. Has it started snowing yet, as I lay here in my room?
Winter Carnival Evenings:Once a year events. If you don't know where a party is, you don't have to walk too far. After working on a snow sculpture for hours, you just want one thing, a drink or six. Especially when your statue turns out to be not politically correct or just a piece of junk snow pile (that possibly happened to resemble a phallic symbol.) These nights seem special. A quick dinner from Domino's for free; due to the crowd in town they can't keep up. At this point the manager knew me so decided not to rush my order. Half hour late meant free back then. It was then time to run around all night and look at the statues that were completed. It was cold but that was normal. One year I did this was strikingly clear with thousands of stars visible. I won't forget that. Statues were all fascinating. Swordsman, dictators, automobiles, the variety was amazing. One small one was a tunnel but the darkness prevented us from seeing what was inside. There was one woman with us who was new to the group and I was interested in her. I decided that this must be a tunnel of love and decided to kiss her there in the dark. Nothing was said but she ended up getting married to another guy who was in our group. Perhaps she made an error and picked the wrong guy. As we made it back to the house, it was once again very cold, probably about twenty below. I don't know how I managed to get through all of that and get a degree in the process but I'm glad I did.
I wonder why I look at the whole past in such a bizarre fashion, it actually seemed enjoyable when I look back at it. Although if I think really hard and click my slippers together three times, I do seem to recall that it was actually a rather tough time; low on money, classes were difficult, and many other problems. For some reason I feel like I have many of the same problems now. Ten years from now will I look back and think that this too was an enjoyable time with many stories to tell. I think the reason I remember the past so well is the fact that many of the people I knew made my life so much more enjoyable where it really counts, in the mind. That is really the important thing. I'm sure in ten years I'll again be telling stories of my current schooling. That's how confident I am that many of the people around me are really friends. As it is the holiday season as I write this, I toast all my old, current, and future friends. May they all be as good as the way I remember them. By the way, I think it was the weather and loneliness of campus during break that made me think of all this.
The past sure is arbitrary.
Last Updated 04/13/95.© 1996 PPSA