I took a long time, decades in fact, to revisit Orono and the University of Maine, where I graduated in 1973. Actually, I had no reason to return, and I wondered too if I’d feel sad remembering a younger version of myself.

I had transferred as a junior from the Portland campus of what was then University of Maine at Portland-Gorham so I could experience campus life. But the adjustment was difficult, so at times I felt lonely and displaced.

How would I feel now seeing Orono and the campus again? So I decided to find out. And having taken a virtual tour, I wouldn’t be in for too many surprises.

First stop in Orono was lunch at Pat’s Pizza. After I drove by Fraternity Row, I parked my car at Penobscot Hall, where I lived my senior year. Instead of feeling melancholy, I felt pure happiness at being back again, a feeling that lasted my entire two hours of walking around campus.

Although the black bear out front was more snarling than the previous one, the gym looked the same. I heard Shirley Chisholm speak there, saw Sha Na Na in concert and watched my friend Chris (Folsom) Bearce cheer for our basketball team.

The sports complex had expanded, but the football and baseball fields were familiar.


Walking by Androscoggin Hall, I remembered the spot where my parents dropped me off the first day. I peeked into the lobby, laughing as I remembered the football captains, Pat Ladd and Tom Keating, decked out in their M jackets, welcoming me, prompted by Coach Walt Abbott, a friend of my father’s.

I could almost picture myself in my room with my friend Jane, being serenaded by her boyfriend karaoke-style to Three Dog Night’s “Never Been to Spain.” And I thought of my fun roommate Jackie Foster.

Stopping at the infirmary where I spent a few days due to mono, I thought of two memories: the good food and the Chaucer test I took while sitting in bed.

There were some new technology and engineering buildings.

Walking up the hill I saw the Hilltop Dining Commons and thought of the relaxing Sunday dinners I’d had with my friend Sue.

And then such delight at seeing the Mall! Stevens Hall held my English classes and my adviser, Dr. Manlove.


I walked over to the library and the minute I stepped in, I felt my younger self there. Wandering around the study rooms and stacks upstairs, I felt at home. Now there are computers, but the atmosphere is the same.

Smiling, I made my last stop at the Union. Although it was familiar the minute I stepped in, the Bear’s Den is no longer there; in its place, almost a food court.

Back in my car, I made a final tour. I was so glad I had visited. I don’t feel the need to return, though I might want to some time. But for now, I’m glancing at the pictures on my phone and happily reminiscing.


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