Wednesday, July 17, 2013


An old college friend was in town this week.  We got together for only the second time in thirty years.  Like our first lunch a couple months ago, this one was an absolute joy.  We talked, shared memories, saw places we frequented back in the day, and looked at what's changed over the past three decades.

The reason for the visit-- her daughter was attending orientation at the University of Scranton.  The daughter begins classes there next month.

I don't have children, so parts of the orientation experience were new to me.  There were meetings and testing for the students, they get to spend the night in a dorm, and they experience a first taste of college life.  Mom got the pleasure of attending financial planning meetings.

Times have certainly changed.

I remember my first day at Marywood back in 1979.  There was a Sunday address by the president and a mass.  We got a bag with a couple pamphlets, a schedule, and a bar of soap.  I kid you not.  A bar of soap!  It was Coast, the eye opener.  I love that stuff, and I can't smell a bar without thinking of Marywood.  However, being given a toiletry on orientation day felt like receiving a prisoner of war care package, or something you'd get as you were checked into a federal prison.

There were some attempts at forced socialization on that orientation Sunday, like a volleyball tournament and a picnic.  I interpreted those as "dormie" events and I blew them off.  In retrospect, I should have taken the free burgers and dogs.  It would have added value to my college experience.

Instead, I grabbed my high school friend, Jerry, who was also a Marywood freshman.  We went to Burger King in Dunmore.  Whopper.  No mayonnaise.  Large fries.  Large diet cola.  I believe BK was a Pepsi outlet at the time.  Coke came along later.

I went home.  Classes started the next day.  I was disoriented and somewhat terrified, but at least I had a bar of soap for comfort.  I was the best smelling frightened freshman you ever met.