Sunday, May 1, 2016

The Alma Mater

Yesterday, to take a break from the hospital for a few hours, my brother and I went across the street to walk through the campus of the University of South Florida, where we both went to school. Our nephew tagged along, and like two old men we regaled him with tales of "how it used to be." (Which he probably hated, and I can't blame him.)

The campus has figured in my life in a major way, almost from the beginning -- my parents taught at USF and I spent many hours of my childhood there. I've always liked the '60s architecture of the original buildings.

Outside the Fine Arts Building, we found the "Fart Wall"...

...and some interesting sculptural creations.

Then we meandered near the science buildings. There's an artwork called "Forum II," by Joe Testa-Secca, from 1960, around the chemistry auditorium.

There used to be a Foucault's pendulum in the Physics building, perpetually swinging in a glass-walled staircase. My dad's office was in that building, so I have fond memories of it and was eager to see it. But when my brother and I stopped by we found that it had been removed. We were upset until we read later that it's been moved to a new science building nearby. (Here's a video.)

And of course I had to check out the library...

...where there's now a giant mural of Bulls, the school's mascot.

I was so happy to find that the library still has that pleasant, booky, papery smell.

I pulled a random older book off a shelf. It turned out to be one of a series on English cathedrals, inscribed by the original owner, who bought them in England to prepare for a series of lectures. That man's son, in turn, re-inscribed them to a friend in 1932. "I know of no present that I could afford that would be of greater value or carry a sweeter sentiment," the son wrote to his friend. "I trust they have a special interest to you and will be an inspiration to you in your work."

I wonder how they wound up in the library at USF? The date stamps showed they were checked out as far back as the 1970s -- the years I was growing up on the campus. Kind of amazing, that random snippet of someone's history.

And where's Olga when we need her?


  1. Seems like we're all having little walks down memory lane right now.
    Nice pictures of a pretty campus.

  2. I'm so pleased that your dad us doing well!

  3. LOVE the science building, I want to live in a house with that sculptural composition on the outside. How Happy I would be to come home everyday. Your squirrel gets around, He was on my deck this morning! So pleased to hear that all went well with your Dad...Now to face another loved one's surgery. You are going to need a nap!

  4. That book is fascinating. It makes me want to learn about all the hands that it has passed through.

  5. How curious it must be to revisit your past stomping ground, and find your boyhood self again, inside you still.

  6. You are making good use of your time! It's nice when revisiting the past is a pleasant experience.

  7. I'm glad you found it a pleasant campus to revisit.

  8. Nice visit to our old stomping grounds...I should get out there more but always find other places to go. Glad all is well with your Dad today. Best to your family and Dave and have a safe trip back to London.

  9. Sharon An k, you may enjoy reading a book titled " The people of the book" by Geraldine Brooks. It follows the history of an old Jewish prayer book through several hundred years. A novel, but quite interesting.