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A few Amherst Memories

So, last time, I had just gotten to my arrival at 1979...which was, what? Forty-three years ago as I write this in 2022.


Actually, I remember the very first day I went to classes at UMass-Amherst. I’d been in town for a couple of weeks...long enough to get settled...and then, one day, classes began.

I remember walked from the bus stop to class that night. Most of my classes were at night, by the way. The undergrads went during the days. Us graduate students went in the evenings.

I remember my walk that evening, and I recall thinking what an odd place the university looked at that particular time. The school -- all of Amherst, really -- is in the middle of rural area. There are farms all around, and empty spaces.

But UMass-Amherst itself had an oddly urban feeling. That was because many of its buildings were very tall--basically, mini-skyscrapers. For some reason, the University’s designers in the late 70s had been fond of towers. The Library, for example, was housed in a vast brick thing that reached up towards the clouds and the stars...floor after floor.

The problem was that, shortly after I arrived, it was discovered that the brick facade of the library tower might not be safe. There was a concern that it would, well, pop bricks, and that these, falling from the top floors, would hit the ground (and anyone unlucky enough to be under them) going at a perfectly terrific speed. The library was shut down, and if you wanted to do research, you filled out a form to get whatever books you needed, and these would be (in time) delivered to yet another building...the Old Library...where you could pick them up.

Made my first year...complicated.

The Library Tower -- for once, this isn't my photo. It is by Robite and is available on Wikimedia Commons. The photo under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. It is on Wikimedia here:

More interesting still was student housing. At that time, the undergrads could get university housing in a complex of huge brown and white towers towards one end of the campus. I’m told that they were quite comfortable, though I never lived in one. As a grad student, I could and did get an apartment off campus.

But I did have one very unfortunate encounter with The Towers. One of the people I met at UMass-Amherst...actually, a woman upon whom I had a small crush ...turned out to be mentally ill. I believe she suffered from some sort of schizophrenia, though I never knew for certain.

All I know is that she had what she called her “episodes,” and in the midst of one of these, she climbed to the top of one of the towers...

...and stepped into space.

It wasn’t suicide, of course. She didn’t know what she was doing. was a bit harrowing. I ended up doing a video about it, years later, entitled “She Who Flew.” You can see it here, if you like:

But...anyway, getting back to that night....when all that (and so much else) was still in the future... I walked across the campus, contemplating the feel of the place, and my own curious new life in it. I came to one of the smaller buildings ...part of the English older structure and no skyscraper.

I entered the building. I checked the room numbers. I realized my class must be upstairs. I trotted up a stairway...there was an elevator, but it was festooned with signs that read “Save Energy! Walk!” So, good scout that I was, I did.

I went down the hallway. I noted where the men’s room was for future reference. Always good to know that sort of thing. Then I came to the classroom. I was a little early, and the room was mostly empty. The chairs were arranged in a circle around the room. I selected one on one wall and sat. I opened my backpack and brought out a pen and a note book. I looked up.

I heard voices. There were people coming down the hall. Of course, I couldn’t see them yet.


Somehow...for some reason...I felt something magical was about to happen.

And, strangely enough, I was right.

More to come.

The second picture of the day is a photo of Martha while we were having lunch at Georgetown restaurant of which we're quite fond, Roots. We were having lunch there with our friend Norma and she was kind enough to snap the photo with my phone.


Care to help out?

I provide these blog postings for free. That’s fine and I’m happy to do so. But, long ago and far away, I was told that if you give away your material, that means you don’t really think it has any value.

So, to get beyond that, I’ve decided to make it possible for you to leave me a “tip” for my posts.

If you like what I write or the videos I produce, and feel you could make a small contribution to support my efforts, please go here:

That will take you to a Gumroad page where you’ll have the option of leaving me a few pence by way of encouragement.

Again, I don’t mind if you don’t. I just want to provide you with the option so that I won’t feel quite so much like I’m just tossing my works into the wind.

Either way, thanks hugely for dropping by the blog :-)




Copyright©2023 Michael Jay Tucker

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