Look What They’ve Done to My Song, Ma.

They’re tearing down the junior high where I went to school in the early ‘70s.  My senior high school, which I graduated from in 1976, is now a community and (appropriately) senior center.

I don’t miss them.

I learned a great deal about various subjects and myself when I was in school, but if I had to think of something that I miss, in an emotional way, it would be something that I first acquired in 1976 and lost some time in the past two decades.

When I started college, in the fall of 1976, I lived at home with my parents.  My dad was a professor, and it made sense for us to share the ride in each day.  He parked just off campus, a lot behind one of the fraternities that lined University Avenue.  From there, it was a short walk to a café where I hung out sometimes before my first class, or a longer walk to Coffman Memorial Union or the West Bank campus.

But that first fall, I wandered through the wonders of just-off-campus shops in Dinkytown, and one of my first stops was along 14th Avenue, not far from  its intersection with 4th Street (which I have always identified as that 4th Street).  It was Gray’s Campus Drug at 327 14th Ave SE.  I needed folders, paper, pens, stuff to fill my bag.  I found those things—and something else.  A light-blue hooded sweatshirt.

I’d never owned a sweatshirt before, let alone a hoodie.  Just hadn’t been my style.  But this one became my style, and I kept it for years.  I wore it throughout my college career, into grad school, all over Europe (I believe) and it kept me warm at protests, camp-outs, you name it.

By 1986 it was pilled, dirty on the elbows, the cord was frayed, and I honestly don’t remember if the zipper still worked.  But I had already lost it, in the way one loses one’s heart.

T had acquired it.  At some point, I think she got rid of it—likely during one of our moves—but she wore it for years.  And I think that’s the reason that I don’t miss my old schools all that much:  They have to have meaning that you share with another person, and at those school, I just didn’t.

But that blue sweatshirt still comes up in conversation from time to time.  If I ever find a photo of it, I’ll likely post it, and likely not.

Look what they’ve done to my song

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