mad in pursuit memoir notebook

DISPATCHED FROM THE intersection of yesterday and forever

The Freshman

[cont'd] Summer of 1967 at Yale was a summer of many firsts: planes, trains, room of my own, ocean beaches, male friends from co-ed classes, and learning how to operate in the world on my own. On my way home, a girlfriend and I spent the night in New York City in an apartment of somebody's sister and it was the tiniest apartment I could imagine, but it opened to the roof and the sky with its own spacious caged-in terrace -- a piece of the universe. I was captivated. Everything was possible. I was a cosmopolitan!

And then I was a college freshman. In September. My parents delivered me to Freshman Orientation Week at Mundelein College and handed me over to the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (BVMs), who gave me a red beanie to wear. Mundelein was an urban skyscraper college on Lake Michigan at a busy curve on Sheridan Road. It abutted the sprawling campus of Loyola University.*

Northland Hall was an old north side apartment building converted to a dorm. Room 208 had two rooms, a walk-in closet and a bathroom for four young women. Its windows looked out on the fire escapes of the building next door. One of my roommates was Mary Kay, one of my best friends from high school who, sadly, had just lost her brother to a drowning accident in the Mississippi and was still having nightmares. The others were Izzy and Mary Margaret, both 5-day residents, who left every Friday for their suburban families and returned on Sunday nights.

We had room-check every morning to make sure our beds were made and bathrooms cleaned. And no matter how cold it was, we had to wear skirts to the main building down the street, where the cafeteria and classrooms were. Rules, rules, rules.

The one souvenir I had from my summer was a Yale sweatshirt. The school was so Midwestern Catholic insulated that none of the girls in my dorm would believe I'd been to Yale.

But the winds of change were blowing.

On the first day of Orientation, we lined up in Coffey Hall to hear a speaker from the University of Chicago branch of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), a radical anti-war group. The first words out of his mouth were: "Take off those f*cking beanies." And we did. And the nuns did not make us put them back on. There would be no stopping the Revolution.



It's our 14th Anniversary today. We got up to see the eclipse of the moon, which we could only view through a hole in the trees from our bedroom window.

*Loyola has since absorbed Mundelein.