Tutwiler Memories

This installation of the Franklin Stove Blog is a departure from the usual format.

It’s fictional, based on accounts of actual events.

It might even be considered a ghost writ post.

This is a work of fiction. Any similarity to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events, is purely coincidental.

Tutwiler was reduced to rubble on July 4th

It’s me, Rose, again. Now that I’m haunting Bryant-Denny stadium I can look back to where Tutwiler Hall was located. It’s almost as if it never existed. For a short while there was rubble. Now it’s just a vacant space.

I couldn’t very well go into the new Tutwiler. It wasn’t inhabited and I can’t haunt a building that doesn’t have people in it. Its first residents weren’t scheduled to arrive until August. The stadium always seemed to have people inside. So that’s where I went.

At the old Tutwiler, people had to pass by a large circular desk to gain access to the elevators or dining area. Girls always seemed to be able to sneak male students inside anyway. We shared bathrooms. On some nights it seemed that people were fighting to get space at the mirrors to put their makeup on.

Co-eds at the University when I enrolled were a distinct minority. By 1968, the year that I died, the University only had about 13,000 students enrolled. About 8,000 were male and about 5,000 were female. Over the years the enrollment of female students became greater than that of males. Out of about 38,000 students, 22,000 were female by the time Tutwiler was condemned.

The University has been gentrified since I was first enrolled. I had followed the continual changes on campus over the years in the student newspaper. Luckily a copy of the latest Crimson White was blown into the stadium during a summer thunderstorm. It was wet but I could still read about the new Tutwiler.

The new version of Tutwiler, which was to be opened for students the month after the old building was demolished, would accommodate over 1200 co-eds. Two girls would share rooms, that had bathrooms. That sure beats having to share with other girls on the floor, like when I moved in. Rooms would have a microwave and mini-frig too. I doubt if any of the rooms will be subject to the dorm room inspections that I had to undergo. There will be a lot of cameras around so there’s a lot of video surveillance.

Girls used to wear skirts to class. That eventually changed to short exercise shorts and tee-shirts or leggings, joggers and tight jeans along with a tank top, at least during the warm months. When I first entered the University, “conservative” bathing suits were required when girls sunned themselves on private sun decks and even the use of Bermuda shorts was restricted. There was the curfew for women students too.  Eventually the doctrine of “in loco parentis” ceased to regulate the lives of University co-eds.

A professor once lectured about a “biological mandate to reproduce.” I think he was just talking about being horny. Put thousands of pheromone laden students together and that’s what you get.

When I was at school there were conversations among the girls about what “base” their boyfriends had gotten to. First base was kissing; second was petting above the waist (allowing a boy to grope your breasts); third was petting below the waist (allowing a boy to fondle your nether regions); and home plate was going all the way. Things have sure changed since then.

“Hooking up,” as the co-eds now call getting to home plate, is more commonplace. Many just go right to home plate and skip the other bases. And it could be with a stranger. I once read an Snapchat post by a sorority sister who thought that the Machine endorsed local school board candidate was attractive. She wrote, “He’s so hot I’d give him a handy.” I guess that hand jobs and even “blow jobs” were still on the menu.

What was sad to me is when a female student, who was drunk, became pregnant by hooking up. She might find herself having to marry an immature, disgusting boy that she barely knew. Thank God abortions were possible!

One girl said, “I forget just about everything I’ve ever learned in class. By going to the University at least I’ve learned to hold my liquor!” Of course, some students have partied too much instead of studying and have flunked out. I think the idea that “Candy is dandy but liquor is quicker” is the reason that there was so much drinking going on. Many girls who were sloppy drunk and wearing short shorts and clingy tank tops might as well be wearing “Fuck me. I’m about to pass out” signs. It seems that many of their parents also existed in an alcoholic haze, so students were just becoming another version of their folks. Like their parents their social lives revolved around booze. Maybe that’s how they came into the world in the first place?

I thought differently about the idea that the University was the breeding ground for our “nation’s future leaders” after the Covid pandemic started. With students living in densely packed dorms and fraternity houses as well as meeting in bars and classroom settings, it seemed as if the University had also become a breeding ground for disease. After infections rose rapidly in 2020, the University called for a moratorium on student activities outside of classrooms. Gatherings were prohibited both on and off campus. Certain areas in dormitories, fraternity and sorority houses were closed. The city even closed bars for two weeks. At one point there was a state wide mask order.

But before the Covid pandemic had shown any sign of ending, things had gotten back to normal on campus. Here in the stadium, where I now reside, for a year there had been fewer fans allowed in. A lot of them refused to wear masks. A popular basketball “superfan” with the nickname Fluff died due to Covid after attending a championship game. He frequently took his mask off after his followers asked him to pose with him in “selfies.” Most students were not fully vaccinated. Bars were crowded. At one point, the band The Velcro Pygmies posted pictures in Twitter of maskless students at a local bar. The Tweet included the message, “You’re being reckless. You’re going to get everyone killed.”

I don’t think that there were a lot of student deaths due to Covid. The basketball fan may be haunting Coleman Coliseum for all I know. Fluff’s place in the basketball arena, section S, row one, seat seven, now has a plaque in his honor. Students were more resilient when it came to infections. I don’t know whether they took the virus home when they visited Grannie or Grand Dad. I also don’t know if many students simply had no symptoms and now have Long Covid either.

It could very well be that I’m not the only ghost haunting the Capstone. I’ve never seen another spectral entity, but that may just be due to the rules of ghostly life.

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