1986 just doesn't seem all that long ago, but my recent return to UWEC for a prospective college tour with my son brought back plenty of memories. Despite a few new buildings and some hovels rightly demolished, so much really remained the same.
A sparkling new student union has risen up a couple of hundred yards south of where the old student union used to stand—complete with the little space known as The Cabin where we used to see live music. Except that this Cabin looks nothing like the old Cabin. This new Cabin is a luxurious coffeehouse. And now Bon Iver plays sets at the Cabin. We never had the likes of Bon Iver at the old Cabin.
UWEC has always had a massive hill to navigate, which is quite slippery in the winter and which I have accidentally slid down far too many times. That hill remains. My son thought to ask the tour guide if anyone ever long boarded down "The Hill". Although it is not exactly legal, supposedly some brave college boys do.
The footbridge over the Chippewa River is still there. The middle of the UWEC footbridge across the Chippewa River actually made a "David Letterman Top Ten" list as one of the coldest spots in the nation back when I had to walk across in the dead of winter. This bridge must be navigated to get to the arts classes and weekend house parties on the other side of the river. And Water Street (also on the other side of the bridge) with the strip of college bars is still there. Surprisingly most of the bars still stand and the same as they did in the late 1980s. I was happy to discover that a nasty house my roommate Theresa and I once lived in at the end of Water Street has been bulldozed and is now a parking lot
Overall it was a somewhat nostalgic, yet surreal, experience touring UWEC with my 16-year old son. I'm not sure if Patrick will follow in my footsteps and become a BluGold. The sight of one of the dorms looking exactly like it did back in 1986 might have been enough to scare him off. For me that old dorm room brought back a flood of memories of livin' in Eau Claire.
(My college roommate and wingmates might be pleased that I could not quickly salvage any photos from our freshman days in Murray Hall to include along with this post.)