Judith Laura: Alma Mater Ohio, 1963

I originally wrote this for Ohio University’s 1963 Athena, where it was accompanied by photographs. The text has been changed slightly here and section titles have been added. UPDATE: In 2010 Ohio University put all Athena editions online in digital form. The link for the 1963 Athena, beginning on the first page, is here. The section with the text shown on this page (in its original form) is here with the PHOTOS that accompanied it. (Actually the text was written to accompany the photos.) A pic of me (with my hair in a beehive and sipping lemonade) is on page 242. Credits for the photographs and for the feature copy are on page 339. Have fun! I know I did.    

Copyright © 2002 by Judith Laura

Love at First Sight  
Rushing (forward) toward it from wide, pillar-lined streets—the oasis in a desert of broken-down mine shafts, horror-story houses mere remnants of ghosttowns—drawn close together between blazing hills.

Seeing, while rushing, that morning brightness divides shadows falling with absolute clarity on red brick buildings, sidewalks. Vermillion. Dark Red. (Maroon? Oxblood? Orchid?) With splashes of glistening green between the walks, like a picture postcard. Only more vibrant because it is a vision of the mind. Stepping, without seeing, almost without feeling, into deep grooves of Ewing steps.

Whose will be the footfalls that finally wear the first print into the Space Art stairs? Faces, rushing past, do they see? Flashing past like the passing of past years: each like the other. Until magically the veil lifts and the face is a sunny spot that a cloud has just passed over, smiling, "Meet you after class for coffee in the Frontier Room."

Is this the place where greetings and confetti were tossed? Moonlight flooding through McGuffey elms, mirages floating between shafts of lamppost light, whirl (revolve) and then–for one breath’s space–are still. Voices: Hurry! In five minutes girls turn into pumpkins. 

Homecoming Floats 
. . . .flour and water make paste. . . on sweatshirt. . . tweak. . . tomorrow. . . not much time. . . tweak. . . green yellow red blue English test Monday. . . who’s getting up at 6 a.m . . . tweak. . . "from back here it really looks sharp" . . . But what if the head falls off before it reaches Court Street. . . white breath and gray smoke mingle. . . golden mums meet yellow sun. . . Trumpets drums boom blare so early in the morning. . . "how do they get it to move up and down". . . bumping along while working a lever inside a three-foot square cubicle and being six feet tall. . . roses. . .smiles. . .queen candidates must feel cold like that. . . one in a most revealing gown smokes a cigar to keep warm. . . .  

The Game 
Win. . .not a chance do you know what the odds are. . . they beat Purdue. . .but maybe. . .ten more yards. . . c’mon. . . just. . . get that ball. . .and. . . confetti. . .a touchdown already. . . yes some coffee no a coke. . .a touchdown. . . the floats again looking like oddly covered wagons. . . float placed. . . joy laughs and cries with the kickoff. . . show ‘em again. . .yes another. . . touchdownitlookslikewe mightmaybeitsjustpossiblesomehowWin

First Registration 
By Computer 
Voice: In the spring I saw all those Beautiful courses and I couldn’t decide which to take so I signed up for 25 hours thinking I would have time to decide over the suMMer. So this suMMer I couldn’t get a job and My parents only gave Me $5 to last ‘til Thanksgiving and a change order is $3. So what do I do now? DO NOT FOLD OR BEND. "I’m sorry But you’re not registered at thIs University. You’ve Been rejected by the Machines."  

Art History 101 
In his paintings Leonardo combined scientific knowledge and poetic sentiment. Michelangelo painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Raphael’s Alba Madonna is a "tondo." A tondo is a round picture in which three figures are neatly arranged in a parallelogram within the circle of a frame. A tondo is a—Tonto, quemo sabey hi ho silverware—round picture— or even a square picture, picture on dresser never is the same as looking up and seeing, as reaching out and touching—in which three figures—Bill, Tom, Fred— within the circle of a frame—standing in a circle under the window speaking in excited whispers about the latest plan—plan for tomorrow night. Call at five. Dance. The music swirls and is gone and out in the lobby see the same people that sit in front and beside and behind nine o’clock MWF looking starchy instead of slouchy which is posing. Starch slouch. Both. Only alone like this, looking but not being seen, is not. But nine o’clock Monday Michelangelo painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

Fading one by one. Footsteps calling backwards from labyrinth of lost corridors leaving   One light flaming flickering in not even blackness   Smoke weaving wreathing writhing into sleepiness sleeplessness   Thoughts sounding like voices which speaking silences   Silence sirens. 

Junior Prom Histrionics... 
It’s not bad when no one’s watching, but all these people Is it easy to become a pelican for one night? Get the scenery on the line seven minutes don’t drag–judges Never knew old Ted could do that!

Most handsomest beautifulest all-American international universal superb fantabulousaroonie J-Prom Queen and King (Here’s how it stands: voting date is with a SQ but vote for the RT because of the counter-deal with the LMNO’s who have a contra-deal with the XYZ’s.)    

Yesh, thersh need fer jusht a little in sush a prodheck, prodhic We dropped out.

...and Coronation Thousands all staring. Is it possible to step into the spotlight for one brief moment without stumbling lost in the brightness?

Excited whispers swell into a roar inside Then silence pounding, pulling, holding out all possibilities.

Waiting while guessing ahead.

And the voice announces: Queen, King.    

It’s her not us (not this year) it’s them it’s us so happy can’t believe it could happen thank you thank all who helped so happy laughter bubbles like tears can’t believe    

Mock UN Voices: When we get the floor we’ll yield to the Ukrainian SSR—The first plenary session of the Mock United Nations will please come    

To save succeeding generations from the scourge. . .    

Voice: of radioactive dust which blows across Outer Mongolia we wear these boarskin caps and hip boots    

To reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights. . .    

Voice: for the indigenous people of South Africa who are suffering under the government-sanctioned policy of segregation called apartheid (pronounced apart hate)    

To establish conditions under which justice and respect. . .    

Voices: And now we take you to the floor–Mr. Chairman, I have the floor. I move we reconvene Sunday–but we can’t we’re students–and we have to study

To promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom. . .

Conception If our coming unto and our going forth is always lit by manufactured lights, scheduled by tradition, prohibited and permitted by authority,

what can be born? How will there be a renaissance?

Rehearsal Projecting into the future, a word, a melody that rises, reaches out, falls–almost like a foreign tongue.

Repeating, over and over, as another voice is thrown upon the former silence

until the whole world is born from one chord.

Curtain Up How long before rhythms, harmonies from within burst the universe of singularity?

Voice: Yet will others ever hear, listen?

Performance Listen– Rushing (cars) crowds Figaros hide under sofa covers and dance with trombone moaning out damned spot out Crashing (streams) seas say when the saints come marchin’ in Rushing (cars) crowds Crashing (streams) seas Listen Parents Two weekends out of the year its polish shoes and manners time. See, Dad, this is the Frontier Room where I live, uh, take a study break. Hey, old Jack looks just like his Dad. What a long dinner line.

Choking smoke, blasting jukebox just like the old times. I raised a little hell in my day too, let me tell you. That’s Pete out there. Just like his old man! Look, they passed to him. He’s running. Touchdown! My son, my

daughter. I didn’t realize. Out of all these girls to be chosen to what’s-it-called Mortar Board. How happy she looks in the shadows of the fire’s flame.

Sitting on the Center patio, sun warming the lemonade, feeling like visiting day at an institution.

Voice: Now Mom, don’t cry.

I promise to come home

next weekend.

The Athena was the name of the yearbook for Ohio University. These books provide a snapshot in time of all your friends and classmates. You can look back through them years later and reminisce about good times you had and people you knew. Additionally, Athena yearbooks are filled with fun memories like quotes, photos, and articles that can make you laugh or bring a smile to your face. They are a great way to preserve your college memories for future generations.

For fiction set partly at a southeastern Ohio college suspiciously similar to OU, see https://www.judithlaura.com/3PI.html