As a student at Dartmouth College in the mid 1960s, I spent four years in the second farthest dormitory from the center of campus. Why? It was one of three new dormitories, and many of the older dormitories didn’t appeal to me for various reasons. Initially, my dorm was called Middle Wigwam; then it changed its name to McLane Hall. God knows what it’s called now, as the college erected numerous other buildings in the immediate vicinity and called another building McLane Hall. I certainly hope that the McLanes are happy with that.
There were several problems about being so far from the center, which mostly became apparent in the fierce New Hampshire winter. First of all, the central heating plant was more than a mile away. When the temperature dipped down to -30° degrees Fahrenheit (-34° Celsius), it wasn’t particularly easy to heat the building. Fortunately, I had an electric blanket for those days when the mercury sank way below comfort level. We never needed a refrigerator most of the year: windows were festooned with gallon jugs of apple cider.
Secondly, in going to and from classes and meals, I had to take a long walk on a frequently icy (and in Spring slushy) Tuck Mall past the Hanover town cemetery, which at night was a scary experience. Many of the graves dated back to the 18th century and looked ominous from dusk on.
In my college years, I was frequently sick with severe frontal headaches that made going to class or the dining hall a misery. It was only after I graduated that I found the cause: a benign tumor was growing in my pituitary gland and pressing on the optic nerve. I was basically a pretty unhealthy young man who was taking long walks every day during the school year. Of course, once I got to my classes or the dining hall, I hung out in the Baker Library (now the Baker-Berry Library) or the Hopkins Center or—that’s where my habit began—the Dartmouth Bookstore.
I was fortunate to have survived my college years. All the times I showed up to the student infirmary, I was told I had migraines or hay fever or some such—pure bosh! But then, in those early years, all they had to go on were X-Rays; and the pituitary, being directly in the center of the head, did not show up well on the X-Rays of the period. MRIs and CAT Scans were all in the future.
Even so, I enjoyed most of my time at Dartmouth. It was a beautiful place, with majestic elm trees all over the place. No more! And the college’s aggressive building program has destroyed much of the campus’s charm.
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