Happy College Campers

[Note: Here’s the 2nd in a series of stories about autumn-winter 1979 at Lakewood Community College in White Bear Lake, Minn.]

“This is what it feels like,” I thought, “to know nobody.JillK_CITD

Journal entry for Wednesday, Sept. 19, 1979, almost a full week after classes had started at Lakewood: “I’ve been very busy and anxious even since school started … each day my expectancy in relationships heightens.”

On the 1978 German student exchange, I was still among my high school classmates. But here, in White Bear Lake, I was for the first time entirely on my own.

It was scary, lonely … and exciting.

That Wednesday afternoon, exhausted from bus commutes to and from campus, recovering from the ’flu and homesickness, a surprising thing happened that entirely changed the course of my time at Lakewood.

“I was dozing on a window side bench,” the journal reads, “by the stairwell in the Theatre section of the building—dipping off into that subconscious netherland where one tunes softly and slowly out of the range of present time, when I hear a girl, from the stairway door, say: ‘Mike!’ and still, looking sleepily at her, do not recognize her.”

I had no idea who this person was.

“She walked up and introduced herself as Jill, who was up at [Camp] Shamineau … She said she remembered when I played piano … She said she saw me come out of Art Structure a few times—but didn’t have the courage to talk to me.”

Ohhh yeah… it was all coming back. Her name was Jill Kummel (Logue portrait above right). She said she was surprised to see me at Lakewood. We caught up on people we knew from camp days, then she invited me to get involved with her friends at the Student Programming Board (or SPB, as the student activities committee was called) and the school paper, the Lakewood Logue. Both organizations shared office space on the west wing of campus, along with the Student Senate and College Center Director Dennis Gable’s office.

Lakewood2Dennis Gable was a burly man with a wide mustache, beaming smile and loud, generous laugh. His office door at Room 2671 was always open—out of which spilled John Denver (his favorite). When student volunteers came to him with ideas or news about whatever college center group they were involved with, he always bellowed, “Fan-TAST-ic!”

Dennis was a one-man encouragement machine.

That fall the SPB president was a statuesque brunette named Anita Anderson, often assisted by her younger sister Tina. The Lakewood Logue’s editor-in-chief was another student, Terri Nordby, whose advisor was a slim, dark-haired grad student named Deborah Fisher. Deborah was probably in her late 20s at the time.

After reconnecting with Jill, suddenly everybody wanted me in their group. You would’ve thought the school paper would’ve been a natural move, but for some reason I felt wary of both the Student Senate and Logue, and opted to help the Anderson sisters at the SPB. They promised fun events and great ways to network and get the most out of Lakewood.

Heck, I was sold.

Later that Wednesday, in the school library, I scribbled an ad hoc entry on a sheet of legal paper: “I am perhaps more hopeful now than I have been in a very long and unrelenting time.” I was nostalgic about high school football season, and the forthcoming last summer on the lake, all the while knowing that change was in the wind. And it was going to feel strange.

“Before I left for Lakewood,” I wrote, later affixing the entry into the journal with masking tape, “… it has been my secret wish that someday soon, upon my return [to Mound] there would be one gigantic party that everyone would show up at, and that I could walk around with my old friends and talk to others, laugh and deeply reminisce until the pang of memory would ring in our chests; I had hoped for this, hand in hand with my new love, proud that I had made for myself a hope that became not a crutch but an important fiber of my well-being…”

“…I would be happy.”

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~ by completelyinthedark on February 28, 2014.

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