Posts Tagged ‘Nostalgia’


Twenty Years Ago…

September 11, 2009

Twenty years ago this past May, I graduated from Milligan College.

Twenty years ago this past week, I packed my brand new Celica to the gills with all my belongings and headed for uncharted territory in Kentucky.

Twenty years ago, I had no idea what was ahead for me.

Twenty years ago, I thought I’d NEVER fall out of touch with any of my college friends.

Twenty years ago this past summer, I raised a nest full of blue jays who had been abandoned at our lake cottage.

Twenty years ago today, I had no job… and no idea what job I might ever find. And it didn’t really bother me.

Twenty years ago, I could fill up the gas tank in my car for about $16. And drive forever on it.

Twenty years ago this fall, I remember that it felt wrong not to be driving back to Tennessee for another year of school. My first time coming to grips with the concept of growing up and moving on.

Twenty years ago, I still tended to keep all my possessions in one room. (“Dorm Syndrome” I call it.)

Twenty years ago this month, I met the man I would eventually marry. At church in a small town in Kentucky.

What were YOU doing 20 years ago?


Thursday Snapshot: The Day I Left Home

January 14, 2009


Bethesda, MD — September 1989… I believe it was the 9th or 10th.

I had graduated college earlier in the year, and spent the summer being a complete slug up at the lake in Pennsylvania. Toward the end of the summer, I began to think about where I should go and what I should do, now that I was “all grown up.”

My first decision was that I wanted to move back to Johnson City where I’d gone to school, because at least I was familiar with the town, and it would be far enough away from home that I couldn’t go back every weekend to do laundry. Yes, I really did think these things. I was afraid that if I moved near home, I would just become a lazy sponge and never amount to anything.

I called my best friend Sarah Beth Simmons in Illinois, and asked if she was interested in moving down there with me. But as fate would have it, she had already been diligently searching for jobs and had landed one as a bank examiner with the FDIC. She was assigned to an office in Elizabethtown, Kentucky. So she asked ME if I would like to move in with her there. And I thought about it for, maybe 10 seconds, before I said SURE! Why not? What else do I have to do?

So, in the space of about 4 days, I came home from the lake, was introduced to my brand new car (a gift from my grandmother), loaded up all my worldly belongings, and headed for uncharted territory to the west. My Dad is shown here, standing in front of my packed-to-the-gills Celica, about to bequeath me my own personal chamois before I leave town… because keeping the car shiny is just that important in the Bennett family. That could also be why he was wearing a suit.

I had only been through Kentucky once, and I certainly did not know where Elizabethtown was… but, that is what maps are for! My parents were certain I would be back. I remember one of them describing my departure to someone else as an “exploratory mission.”

Somewhere deep down, though, I knew that I was heading off to my future.

Nineteen years, one husband and two boys later, I think I can say that I was right.


Wednesday Wild Card: The Lobby (a.k.a. Those Were the Days!)

January 13, 2009

I happened across a little homemade video on the web yesterday, and the sound track that the video creator used was Chicago’s “Hard to Say I’m Sorry” from about 1982 or 83.    Wow, did that song take me back to high school and college! It was one of my all-time favorites. I made a comment about the song on facebook and inadvertently started a very small movement among some of my friends (particularly the girls) who felt like dusting off their old Chicago albums and playing them today.

I also received a comment from another college friend, John Reynolds, who liked the song and emailed me a link to the original video. Then he mentioned that some of his best memories from Milligan College were of “sitting on the couch in Sutton watching the early days of MTV 80’s videos with 37 other people, right before we went in to eat.”

So true, John… so true.

I went to Milligan and lived in Sutton Hall from 1985 to 1989. Being the small college that it was (and still is, although it is about twice the size it was in the 80s… but I digress), Milligan had one dining hall, and that dining hall was located on the first floor of my dorm. Additionally, everyone who lived on campus in those days was on the meal plan. All this is to say that pretty much everyone at the school went to Sutton at least a couple times a day, whether they lived there or not… and the lobby was a major hangout location.

Before meals, when we were waiting for the cafeteria doors to open, we sat in the lobby. After meals, when we had put up our trays but didn’t have anything in particular to do just yet, we sat in the lobby. After classes, when we’d just walked up that huge hill with all our books, we would burst through the doors into the lobby to crash on one of the massive couches for a few minutes. People who didn’t live in Sutton sometimes cut through our lobby from the side door to the front, just to see if anything was going on.

As our paths crossed in the lobby each day, we would stop and chat with each other. Exchange class notes. Read the bulletin boards. Wait for the cafeteria to open. But mostly, we watched TV. And what was on TV?  Back then, almost exclusively, on any given TV in any given dorm lobby on that campus, we watched MTV.  We watched videos, and more videos, and more videos. Occasionally someone would change the channel, but that never seemed to last very long.

The lobby was also where many of us witnessed the Space shuttle disaster of 1986. It happened right around lunch time and so many of us were glued to the TV, which for once was not playing videos.  I recall standing there behind the long couch, a crowd of students gathered in front and all around. I was ready to head out the door to class, but kept waiting just another minute to watch that unbelievable footage one more time.

The lobby was where we witnessed the 24-hour “Madonna – True Blue” marathon. Yes, MTV had some sort of contest where people from all over had submitted their homemade videos using her “True Blue” song as the soundtrack. So for 24 hours solid, we heard that song. Over and over and over and over. And over. My husband asked me earlier how the song went, and I’m no Madonna fan, but I instantly started humming the tune and singing the chorus. Because it was drilled into my head 20-odd years ago.

The lobby was also where I found myself alone very late one Halloween night, watching the “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” movie. By myself. In the dark. It was one of those situations where you start watching, and you get scared, but you are in this big dark empty room and you don’t want to leave your seat because the boogey man will get you. But you can’t get up and turn the TV off, either. Because of the boogey man. So you wait and wait and wait and then finally some random person comes through the lobby doors, and you get up and turn off the TV as though you were just heading upstairs anyway, and you’re all, “yeah, so how was your Halloween? Did you do anything fun?”

When there was a special event on campus — anything involving a banquet — the lobby became a little like your elderly neighbor’s living room: you would want to go sit on the couch, but you couldn’t quite get comfortable. There would be actual grown-ups milling about, wearing real dress-up clothes. The college would adjust dinner hours so that all the students would be out of the cafeteria well before the adults showed up. It was like your parents had a party, but they made you get ready for bed early and told you not to come downstairs. Sometimes I would come bounding down the stairwell on my way somewhere, and see the crowd of fancies, and turn around and head back upstairs until they went away. Sometimes I would sit just out of sight and listen to the jumbled conversations. Sometimes after they were all in the cafeteria with the doors shut, I would go back down to the lobby and walk quietly over to the closed doors and peek in the crack to see what they were doing.

Sutton Hall’s lobby was just a big room with high ceilings and parquet floors. It had clunky furniture that was meant to survive years of beatings before being replaced. But I think back now to how much time I spent there, and I smile. When I visit campus these days, I always like to walk through at least once. Things have changed over the years, but I still remember vividly what it was like to stroll into that lobby after a meal, plop down on the couch, and just sit. Music playing in the background. Friends chattering about the day’s events. The clinking of silverware coming from the dining hall. No real responsibilities on my plate. The biggest decision before me being whether to watch more MTV, or perhaps go for a walk… just as soon as I rest my eyes for a few minutes.

Those were the days!


Tuesday Time Machine: Sitting Pretty

January 13, 2009

(click for a larger view if desired)


This photo (no date on it, but I’m guessing it is circa 1915 or thereabouts) shows my ancestors on my Dad’s side… the McDonald children: Inez, George, and Virginia (my grandmother).

I think Grandma looks like a perfect china doll in this shot, with her little round face, slightly pouty mouth, and wavy hair. I wonder if she and Inez hated having those huge bows on their heads? And George looks absolutely thrilled to be sandwiched between his two sisters.

The donkey (mule? burro?) doesn’t look terribly excited, either. 🙂


Thursday Snapshot: Can You Find Me?

January 8, 2009

This one goes out to all those people who know me now, but never knew me back when I was a kid. Kudos to the first person to spot me in this photo from my 6th grade class at Bradley Elementary School (Bethesda, MD). Click for a larger view, and have fun…



Wednesday Wildcard: Today’s Post is Brought to You By the Letter “R”

January 7, 2009

I was cleaning out a closet recently and came across a box of college memorabilia. And tucked inside a large envelope with some old papers and photos was this… a “letter” from my brother on my birthday. It isn’t dated to the year but I think I received it sophomore or junior year. It was displayed with pride on the wall of my dorm room.

It’s hand-drawn on an old newspaper layout sheet. He obviously took a while coloring in the black area… the poster measures 18×24 inches.

Just a little peek into the humor I was steadily exposed to growing up. It is hanging in my office now 🙂



Boys in my ‘hood.

November 9, 2008


My college years were greatly enhanced by a certain group of guys… they were all from Oklahoma, and I think they all had gone to the same small high school together. It started with the Harper brothers (Darren a year or two ahead of me, and Craig in my same class) and then the next year they brought a couple more friends, and then the NEXT year another one… eventually the school was crawling with Okies!

I adored every one of them. They were all tall! And they were all friendly. And they were all willing to hang out with me. So… what’s a girl to do?

I’ll tell you what I did. I brought them home with me!

I believe it was our senior year, most likely over fall break. I am not sure exactly how I organized this trip, nor am I sure what my parents must have been thinking to give the go-ahead. But I told Mom to stock up on Mountain Dew and Reeses’ cups (which she did), and Craig, Darren, Freddy and I piled into Craig’s Buick Skylark and drove from Tennessee to my hometown of Bethesda, MD for a long weekend. That’s right… I brought home not one… not two… but THREE fine young men to visit my parents.

Now, before I go too far stringing everyone along… all of these guys were, I believe, dating other girls at the time of this trip! And while I am quite certain I had a crush on each one of them at some point during our college careers, we were well past all that at this point. This was just a fun weekend with friends! Nonetheless, I was amused when my preacher interrogated me after seeing us all sitting together in church on Sunday.

I don’t remember all the details of the weekend. I know we did a good bit of sightseeing downtown. A lot of walking from monument to monument, historic site to historic site. At one point, I think it was Freddy who exclaimed over having seen his very first homeless person. I recall driving around through DC at night, running a few red lights and committing a few other traffic violations because I was so distracted by all the craziness coming from the guys in the car. We took a lot of photos, many of which came out poorly because I had no flash. But we had fun. I don’t remember all we did, but I remember the fun.

At some point I snapped this picture of the guys in front of the White House. It’s one of my all-time favorite photographs. As we walked away we noticed a man in a trenchcoat following us for a while. I am still convinced that he was a government agent who felt we were a threat to national security.

I don’t know… you be the judge…