Daze of My Life/Memory Lane

by Kenneth B. Lourie

At least once a year, through the kindness of friends - who are either alumni and/or Terrapin Club members - I am given the opportunity to travel back in time, more than 25 years, and attend a college football game at Byrd Stadium in College Park, at my alma mater, The University of Maryland, located a short 20-minute drive from my home in Burtonsville. And though I live relatively close by, and have since I graduated in 1976, it’s rare, if ever, other than these football invites that I find myself back on campus. So when a football game ticket becomes available - and certainly if ever a basketball game ticket becomes available - especially against an Atlantic Coast Conference opponent of long-standing disdain, I am always eager to return to the scene of my college-educated, semi-misspent youth and soak in the atmosphere and root for the home team as I have now, going on 31 years. Yikes!

Thirty-one years! I only wish I was the age of the number of years that have now passed since I first matriculated back in August 1972. I remember my first day on campus, being clueless, driving around with my parents looking for the North Administration Building, where I was supposed to go to sign and receive some documents for my student loan. After that we then drove over to downtown College Park to open up Kenny’s first checking account. I can still see the mob scene in the bank’s lobby, as what appeared to be half the incoming freshman class was present and as yet not accounted for.

I also recall my first experience standing in line outside the Armory building on campus wanting/needing to drop/add classes with what appeared to be the entire freshman class. That line was so long I thought I’d never make it inside. And when I finally did, I saw yet another line snaking around the confines.

Can you spell torture?

And of course I remember attending my first college football game at Byrd and not knowing who, what or why I should be applauding (other than for the team in red, that is). Soon enough it became clear, however, and by basketball season I was fully indoctrinated into the whys and wherefores of proper student behavior. I wasn’t a face-painter or a chest-writer or an overnight sleeper, but I was an avid (not rabid) fan who thoroughly embraced and supported the Terrapins in their ascent to elite status in the NCAA.

Now as I walked across campus from pay parking (at the new Comcast Center) to the football stadium, my route took me past my old dormitory, Cumberland Hall, where I lived for two years. I was tempted to walk inside and ask to take a peek at my old room, but I figured security wouldn’t humor an uninvited voyeur, especially an old one.

I continued on, eventually walking by the tennis courts adjacent to Cole Fieldhouse, where I remember seeing basketball great John Lucas serving and volleying as a freshman. And Cole itself holds its own memories: Lefty, festival seating for the students, and a class I took upstairs near the coaches’ offices with football legend Randy White, “the Manster,” half man, half monster, as he was respectfully nicknamed. And right next door, as it always was, stood the Student Union, recently refurbished, where I saw comedian Robert Klein perform, way back when.

Ah, the memories came rushing back, like a Firesign Theater, Nick Danger Third Eye, routine, popular during the ’70s. It wasn’t the “same old place,” it was “the old same place.” New and improved for sure, but still familiar. It was was if the past was suddenly present, which I suppose it was, since it was Homecoming Weekend, after all.

Lourie is a regionally syndicated columnist who resides in Burtonsville, MD.