Dysmey Post Archive > Pages for 2006 > Mid-January 2006 Edition

Caitlin Clarke Day 2006 Edition

This morning I started my three-day vacation by driving to Purdue University.

Before doing so I made a side-trip to Gas City, where my bank's nearest branch and ATM are, and got some money for the trip. Then came the ninety-minute drive, mostly through farm country that was unusually lovely in the morning light, dew and mist.

After buying a visitor's permit and parking my car in the Grant Street garage, I started my walk. I walked down Wood Street past a nearly complete building marked as a "visual and performing arts performance hall"; then past a metal tower at the east end of the Agricultural Mall that looks somewhat like a grasping hand. At the other end are a mix of buildings within what seems a cool leafy glade.

I passed those buildings and crossed State Street to Waldron Street. I found myself first passing religious houses (that Hillel House looks like a ill-kept post office), then a mix of private apartments and sorority houses. Sorority houses are oddities to me: They don't exist at Ball State, where sororities are given rooms inside dormitories, because long ago the Ball Brothers banned sororities from building houses for themselves after their only sister Lucina was turned down for membership in one.

After a few blocks, I went east to University Street and walked as far north as I could. Lambert Gym has this Art Deco styling which would look neat if the Gym didn't show its age; it's too bad it is well worn and even has a long stain from an air-conditioner in an upper-floor window. Then I had to navigate around the massive construction of what I found was a hugh engineering hall named after astronaut Neil Armstrong.

I walked down Northwestern Avenue, which is a busy four-lane street along the east edge of the university's main quarter. Into that quarter I went via the arch between the two electrical engineering buildings. I walked past Purdue Mall and saw the fountain in the center. They had the water pressure turned down, for the spray was half its usual height. Then I made my way past the bell tower -- the inspiration for Ball State's Shafer Tower (why else would we have one?) -- and through the Psych Building atrium to the Computer Science (CS) Building.

The CS Building is inside a converted gymnasium. It is one of those old buildings that are lovely to look at from the outside, but have limited space inside. Indeed the CS department was already housing faculty in other buildings on my previous visits. Those previous visits also had an empty lot on the northwest corner of Third and University, catty-cornered from the CS Building. This lot, after long delays for funding, now holds the almost-complete new home of the CS department. The architectural firm ought to be lined up and shot for designing such an bum-ugly building, but at least it looks like it has enough room for all the CS department to fit inside.

Afterwards I walked across Memorial Mall to the Steward Library. The greatest annoyance of the Purdue library system is that it still uses Dewey Decimal to classify its books instead of the Library of Congress system used by IU and Ball State. Only slightly less annoying is the fragmentation: Sixteen libraries and collections scattered throughout the campus, mostly clumped by field of study. Compared to what the libraries' Information Technology Department (whose office I got in a peek) must go through, my own unit seems to have it easy. And the library system does not have it own mobile Web site, probably due to lack of time and resources.

Anyway, I left the library and headed to the University Bookstore. There I bought an O'Reilly book on SVG and a new Purdue T-Shirt. Next I visited Von's Books.

Von's Books was hit with a fire caused by its ancient electrical system last November. The fire was confined to the attic, but water used to put it out leaked into the section of the store with the beads, incense and rocks; and then down into the basement where the used books and comics were.

But that was six months ago: The only evidence of the fire now is the burn marks out of windows near the roof, a bumpy feel to some parts of the floor, and one or two missing set of shelves. The rest of the store complex is as I remember it.

I browsed through the books, the beads and the rocks. I browsed through the DVDs before quickly realizing that they were for rent only. I also found the room where they sold stuffed dolls; they had a cat doll that looked just like our cat Sugerpuss, except it doesn't purr when you scratch its ears. I say this because my sister Tina (the geology otaku) thinks the dolls are gone.

I also found the comic book section. It had been a couple of years since my last visit and in that time the separate comic book shop was turned into a cafe. The comic books and "graphic novels" were moved into the basement.

Anyway, I bought four books from Von's. Then I went back to my car, passing what can only be described as the Krannert Arcology: A world to itself, as my one of my sisters described it. The only bad part of the day came as I drove out of the parking garage with a pony-tailed blond girl driving behind me as if trying to kiss my car's butt.

Then I went to the Olive Garden on State Road 26, eating a meal there in honor of Caitlin Clarke, who would be fifty-four today if she were still with us. I was impressed not so much by the food (which is delicious) but that the service was swift compared with the Muncie restaurant. Then again, it was around three o'clock when I stopped by.

After I got home I made a brief stop at the public library, which was holding a one-hour open house this evening to celebrate its eighty-fifth anniversary. There was punch and cookies, a free pen, and (for me) the minutes to the meeting I missed last month.

Copyright © 2006 by Andy West. All rights reserved. Written on 3 May 2006.