All this Fall and Back-to-School activity around me showed up in my unconscious last night. I dreamed that I went to Emmett’s alma mater, Stetson University in DeLand, Florida!
DeLand is, unfortunately, way out of my way on this next research trip down to Florida, but I’d love to see it, especially the old town area. The head archivist at Stetson told me that much of it is the same as during Emmett’s enrollment there, from 1902-04.
Anyway, the dream went like this:
I was in the University of Maryland bookstore at noon on Monday, which would be the height of first day of school. A bad place to be. Students who put off getting their books and paraphernalia until after their first few classes are in there, desperate, panicky and wild-eyed, because they have 100 pages to read, as well as written exercises, in three classes by Wednesday.
I’m standing in the midst of all this chaos, when I see what I would call a small time portal open up over in the Terrapin sweatshirt and sporting goods aisle, across from the books and school supplies.
It is just a thin sliver of light, about my height. It attracts and beckons. I go over, and touch it. My hand passes through the thin beam of light to nothing. The beam opens up to allow me to walk through it, and, looking back at the chaotic scene, Freshmen pummelling each other over used copies of Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style (oh how I wish), I walk on through.
Here, I find myself in a college bookstore of about 1902. Students well dressed. Neat, orderly stacks of books, and bookstore staff are not surly, uneven whiskered overgrown kids wearing earphones, unresponsive even when asked how they are doing that day.
A handsome young man in suit-minus-jacket, comes over and asks if he could help me. I notice his high collar. I ask, isn’t that uncomfortable? He steps back, I asked too personal a question. Sorry, me in my 21st century behavior, I say. He looks at me curiously. Again, he asks politely, can I help you?
I tell him I’m a faculty member transferred from Maryland, and I need the teachers’ editions of a few books. He’s immediately helpful, walks me over to a counter, where he pulls the needed supplies down for me, into a neat pile. He asks, when did I arrive in DeLand.
Just today…say, did you say DeLand? I said. Stetson University?
Uh, yes, ma’am, the clerk said, looking at me a little oddly.
Say, do you know Emmett Wilson?
Yes, indeed I do. He was just in here buying his lawbooks. Set him back about $40, all the money he had for two months.
Amazing, I said.
How long will you be here, the clerk asked, solicitously.
I don’t know, I answered. It depends on how good your football team is. Do you have one?
He looked at me strangely, then I awoke.
Priorities. Even in my dreams.