Sunday, May 14, 2006

Soon to be nothing but memories and rubble

The Gunster Center, a.k.a. the Student Center
One of the next changes coming to the University of Scranton will be the demolition of the Gunster Center, which will be replaced by a bigger Student Center. I have a lot of memories from this building - playing video games and pinball machines (Tetris, Altered Beast, Pinball Deluxe, Cue Ball Wizard, and others) in the basement, known then as "The Archives" and later as "The Wolves' Den", eating many meals in both the second floor cafeteria and the "new" (completed in 1985, I believe, the year that I started there) third floor cafeteria officially known as the "Pocono Northeast Room" (indicated by the glass windows on the left on the top floor), studying inbetween classes in the windowed room on the right, hanging out at Campus Ministries, buying National Lampoon in the bookstore, spending late nights in a lounge that was later transformed into offices...

I met the widow of the architect once at a dinner. She told me (and the others at our table) that the strange shape of the roof was meant to represent an open book. This had never occurred to anybody that I know, and the addition of the new cafeteria on the third floor disruped the symmetry of the design.

The clock in front is new to me, and I immediately dubbed it the "One-Faced Liar", because when I looked at it it was three minutes slow. (This is a reference to Shandon Bells in Cork, Ireland, known as the "Four-Faced Liar" because once upon a time each of the four clock faces on the tower showed a different time. Thoughts of Ireland are never far from my mind in Scranton.) It is entirely possible that there was another face on the other side - I never got around to checking. Clocks in classrooms in St. Thomas Hall were also off by a few minutes. I wonder if this ever causes any problems?

We had our SJLA reunion dinner in the Eagen Auditorium in the Gunster Center. It was a little sad, thinking that this was probably the last time we would see a building that had been a big part of our lives for four years.

My old mailbox, #741
I stepped out of our dinner to use the bathroom, the same bathroom that had been there in 1985, and I decided to give myself a quick tour of the surroundings. The mailboxes were still there, with exactly the same mailbox numbers - or in the case of my old mailbox, lack of a number.

The wall of plaques in the Eagen Auditorium
The plaques representing all of the country's Jesuit universities were still on the wall of the Eagen Auditorium. During one of our "back to the classroom" events a side issue came up regarding Jesuit identity at the school. Back in our day, Jesuit identity on the University of Scranton campus was maintained by the presence of Jesuits. But in the ensuing years Jesuit numbers have dwindled, just as the number of Catholic priests in the country has dwindled. Fewer and fewer Jesuits now walk the Z-bricks of The Commons. How do you maintain a Jesuit identity without Jesuits?

Curtain and stage at the Eagen Auditorium
Soon the Gunster Center will vanish into the past, and the Eagen Auditorium, the Pocono Northeast Room, the cafeteria, the Wolves' Den, and all of the other places in it will just be memories and rubble. I believe it has been the practice in recent U of S construction to salvage and incorporate portions of demolished buildings - windows, doors, other things - into the buildings that have taken their place. I wonder what of the Gunster Center will live on in its replacement?


Mr. H.K. said...

Quite a stroll down Memory Lane. I sometimes go to the University Union Bldg when I'm visiting my hometown just to walk around and reminisce about my years there...

Betz said...

H, did I ever mention to you that Debbies father was the janitor at the University? For years and years. I wonder if you knew him?
:) Yes, I do go on.

Anonymous said...

And the song was by which artist?!?? (i forgot what the song was...)


D.B. Echo said...

Sorry...what song where?

Do you mean "How Bizarre" by OMC, not Sugar Ray?