[Note: This is the 3rd of four stories about autumn-winter 1979 at Lakewood Community College in White Bear Lake, Minn.]
Ray Adams, my maternal grandfather, was in the hospital with a kidney infection.
The news came from Grandma by a letter dated Sept. 20, 1979. It was one of the first letters to arrive at my new Mahtomedi address. I’d forgotten that Grandma was a fairly consistent letter writer.
“How do you like the new school?” she wrote. “Hope you like it and your new home. And make some good friends there.”
By early October, that’s exactly what I was doing.
Once I was on the Student Programming Board (SPB), I learned I’d be joining them at an all-paid conference (including meals and lodging) at Mankato State University. The conference goal was to exchange ideas other student activity groups, meet and greet entertainment acts, and, well, generally party ’til we dropped.
Wed., Oct. 10: “Tomorrow the SPB group—all six of us—Anita, Tina, Jill, Linda, Jim Woodhouse and I—leave for our ‘outing’ at Mankato. It should be an interesting four days.”
Scant details follow in the journal. That Wednesday I hurried off to classes ahead of an afternoon meeting at Anita and Tina’s parents’ house in White Bear Lake.
I rode with them to the liquor store where we “picked up a bottle of rum, whisky and blackberry brandy” en route to the meeting. Two other girls stopped over (I was the only guy), until Student Center Director Dennis Gable and another student named James Toensing arrived. We wrapped it up before 6:30. Anita dropped me off back at my place in Mahtomedi around 7 p.m.
We were four days and three nights in Mankato. I took the journal (which surprises me), as on Sat., Oct. 13, I wrote: “—if my watch hasn’t stopped. A busy nothing now is. For the past two nights I’ve drank myself silly and I plan to abstain from liquor tonight. My next aim for tonight, to be honest, is to find a little sex.”
Hrm. Seems the real focus was less “student programming” and more personal gratification. But hey, we’re talkin’ 19 years old. And still a virgin. It was weighing heavily on my mind.
Our advisor that weekend, Jim Woodhouse, gave us some real-world advice I’ve never forgotten: If you’re going to drink, make sure that before you go to bed you drink plenty of water with two aspirin. Just doing that will—to some degree—take the edge off the hangover you were sure to experience in the morning.
“Ah, the phone!” I wrote. “Tina. I’m on my way over. Ha.” Seems I was angling for some private time with the younger Anderson.
That weekend we listened to college-circuit entertainers (one in particular, a folk guitarist who did a hilarious sendup of Roberta Flack called “Killing Me Softly With Kung Fu”) and inspirational speakers who wanted to book college campuses.
Tues., Oct. 16, back at Lakewood but late to campus, I found everyone standing outside. I assumed it was a fire drill, but Northern States Power was fixing a gas leak. When everyone was allowed back in, I headed to the library, where I wrote: “I must keep my ground and stay on top. All the same, school worries me as I do not wish to be lost in the middle of it. But strange, hidden emotions have played my consciousness lately—”
—Vague then, but it’s clear to me now what may’ve been the source of those “strange, hidden emotions.”
I’d been running into the Logue advisor Deborah Fisher in the student center. She wanted me to leave the SPB and join the student paper. We connected immediately over literature, writing, ideas. I was buzzed talking to her—a definite attraction since she was mature, witty and smart—and very pretty.
Later that week the SPB was invited to a “Lakewood Leadership Retreat” at Camp Iduhapi in Loretto, Minn., the weekend of Oct. 19–21. With the student senate.
And the school newspaper.
And Deborah Fisher.