Recently administrative academician and all-round righteous dude Phil invited me to join a secret FB group entitled “Carbondale in the 80’s and 90’s.” I qualify so I accepted and checked it out. HOLY CRAP, overnight the thing went from zero to 90, my phone is going berserk with new posts and comments, and people were joining by the score. Today, the group membership stands at
whereas current enrollment is at
meaning the group is only 2K shy of equaling the total current enrollment at the school. Now, everyone knew (in their hearts, if nowhere else) that SIUC had fallen on hard times since peak party-school status in the mid-late 80s (see #17)
Even I had posted about it, after having gone there for a swim meet during the school year, seen no people on the Strip, and all the derelict homes in the neighborhoods north of campus were festooned with “for rent” signs, when they should of been festooned with layabouts dodging responsibility and drinking cheap beer from Pinch Penny Liquors.
I was there for a single year – a SINGLE YEAR – before I got the boot and moved west to the greater St. Louis metroplex. But reading these posts, I couldn’t help but relive some of those memories. I was surprised at how much I remembered! I can’t recall what I had for dinner last week, but damned if I don’t remember, in crystal detail, with instant replay and commentary from ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt and Gru from Despicable Me, how I crashed my Firebird (’85, blue, t-tops, bitchin’) into the wall at my fraternity house, threw my keys in rage and they knifed into the nearby tree and STUCK THERE. Or seeing Stanley Clarke at the Shryock and having fellow Sig Ep (HFF!) Jambalaya “jumbo” Kingsman get up on stage and jam with him (I too had jammed periodically, on bass, with Jumbo, although my licks were limited to the bassline for Eric Clapton’s “Cocaine,” which is both easy and slow, as was I at the time). Or going out to Giant City to drink gin and tonics on the bluffs, forgetting glasses, and using a sawed-in-half 2-liter soda bottle as a community bowl like we were itinerant vikings. Or Big Mike getting on the overhead microphone to apologize to the store manager at Arnold’s for (yes) getting on the overhead microphone earlier to call for our slowpoke friends. Or a thousand tales like that. Tales that I accumulated in the space of less than a calendar year. How is that possible?
Reading the FB page, it wasn’t just me – thousands of people were all telling tales of similar nature and detail. The time window means that all these people were in their 40s and 50s, which (a) says something about Facebook demographics, but (b) how is it that we all have these crystalline memories of that time place?
Discounting the rose-colored glasses aspect of memory, which we all know is MASSIVELY true, how is it that I can remember my next door neighbors in Allen Hall (African American, poker players, early risers) but I can’t remember what I had for dinner last Wednesday?
Two pages of Google Scholar has diddly squat. so: first, we know that time passes differently for the young versus the old. Slower, with more detail. There’s some speculation that it’s about brain function and memory storage. Like, after a half century (cough) your brain is filling, like a hard drive approaching 95% usage. The analogy is not so inapt! New hard drives work well; older ones… they glitch.
I think if you take young brains, slow time, lots of storage space and a sense of newness that permeates pretty much everything? That gets stored. Today’s bullshit? That gets dumped. It may be as simple as that. McLuhan said our extensions (tools) are basically us, outward.