It is with a sense of amazement that I admit I am about to turn 60. That means that I moved into the Adams Center Dormitory on the campus of the University of Oklahoma 42 years ago.
42 years is something to ponder. The world has changed so much in that time, as have I. That’s the reason I think it’s a mistake to do anything permanent, like get a tattoo or have a baby, when you’re 18. What on earth was I into when I was 18? Hi-fi stereo? Camaro vs Trans-Am vs Z280? Melissa?
Wait, wait, wait. Before you go off on me for advising you when to have children, yes, I know tons of happy people who had children at a young age, including my late wife Abby, whose daughter was born when Abby was just 19.
But with health care improvements and increasing lifespans, I happen to think it’s a smart move to wait until you settle into adulthood before you take on parenthood. According to healthline.com, for example, “Experts say the best time to get pregnant is between your late 20s and early 30s. This age range is associated with the best outcomes for both you and your baby. One study pinpointed the ideal age to give birth to a first child as 30.5.”
But back to my younger days: the two things that remain in my life that I loved in 1981 are writing and photography.
I thought of all this because one of my college roommates, Carey Johnson, who at that time we knew as “Chip,” sent me a couple of photographs of the dormitory where we lived, Adams Center, and the strip mall across the street from it, Stubbeman Village, being demolished.
Adams Center was a complex of four red brick towers that, along with Walker Tower, dominated the skyline of the south part of the OU campus. Stubbeman Village was right across the street to the west.
Help me remember, Norman people: Stubbeman Village had two restaurants: Mr. Bills and Pinocchio’s, the Half Acre Food Store, a video game arcade, and a movie theater, where my friends dragged me to see the terrible animated sci-fi fantasy Heavy Metal. Later that same year, my first girlfriend Tina took me there to see The Rocky Horror Picture Show. What else was in Stubbeman Village?
I was doing a lot of changing and growing, and screwing up, in those days, and while some of the friendships I forged remain to this day, others I carelessly squandered in my arrogance. I was moody and mopey and hard to get along with (please don’t mentally say “and still are”), and I took college much less seriously than I should have, so I didn’t really get enough out of it.
One thing I did manage to create and nurture in college was my love of writing and photography, which have become some of my strengths as the years have passed. During my time in college, I remember that I couldn’t wait to get out of journalism classes and go do some journalism.
But now, the buildings where our young lives were lived, fun was had, and mistakes were made, are dust. I like to think that some small of us, maybe just traces of our DNA, remain in that dust.