Friday, August 22, 2008

So Many Stories. . . .

Rodin in Memorial Court

So this June would have been my 25 year college reunion. Does that date me? Until yesterday, I hadn't been back to Stanford since, sadly enough. At first I was busy in graduate/medical school and didn't have the money, then I was busy in graduate/medical school/residency/etc. and had a career and a family.
It was wonderful going back. Not at all a disappointment. It was more like remembering why you fell in love in the first place.
I kept dredging up more and more memories and stories of college life. At first I couldn't find my way around the place but with every moment more came back. There was the coffee house (pre-Starbucks era, currently a Peet's Coffee), there the place I saw the University of Washington basketball team lounging on the bookstore steps and realized how short I was/am, but, wait, the Alber's Wall has been moved!
That takes me to story number one.
I believe it was in 1980 that Stanford acquired a new outdoor sculpture to go with a large collection of Rodins and various works by other artists entirely unknown to me at the time. This sculpture, by Josef Albers, became known as The Wall and seemed to be uniformly loathed by Stanford undergraduates. It had a couple of liabilities. The first was that it was hard to see it as a work of art. I recall it as a 6-7 foot high wall of stone and steel which looked less like art and more like a 6-7 foot wall. Unfortunately it was placed in the middle of a major bicycle thoroughfare on campus. On a campus overcrowded with speeding cyclists racing to their next class (such as myself) a large wall was a safety hazard. Students resented this and thought the cost of the work could have been better spent.
Needless to say, cultural ignorami such as my classmates and I, found better uses for the sculpture. The one I remember was using the wall as an opaque net for a game of toss the earthball. The earthball was a large inflated ball decorated like a globe. I recall it as being nearly as tall as I am. It took several people together to toss the ball over the wall. I think I wound up sitting atop the wall shouting directions during the game. I also was supposed to help spike the ball but doubt that I ever achieved that distinction.
As we were driving to campus yesterday, I glimpsed what I believe was the Wall out of the corner of my eye sitting forlornly in a remote part of campus. Maybe someone listened to us students after all? Or maybe not. One final aside--I tried to look up information about the wall on the internet and could find little other than that it existed. Even Wikipedia failed me here.

1 comment:

A Free Man said...

Well, I guess depending on how wild your college days were maybe the wall was just a figment of an altered consciousness ;)

Or maybe that's just me.