March 25, 1970
About this time, it seemed like the whole world was getting away during spring break, traveling to exotic places like Florida, Arizona, or California. Nate and I had both enjoyed traveling during our undergrad years, but these days as we struggled to support ourselves, taking a trip was out of the question. We were lucky to get through a week without a hot-dogs-and-beans supper.
One chilly spring evening we lit a fire and sat in front of it dreaming aloud about what might be the perfect vacation. Nate mentioned the Virgin Islands, knowing how much I loved beaches. Our conversational fantasies drifted to different areas of the country including Hawaii, then across the ocean to Europe and of course Russia, since Nate had learned to speak Russian in college.
He said, “If you could visit any country in the world, which would it be?”
That was easy. “Italy,” I said, “because of all the glass factories in and around Venice!” He laughed and talked about his dream to travel all over Europe so he could see first hand where the history in his text books had taken place. But finally we had to set aside our verbal travelogue and face the facts: During spring break of 1970, we were going nowhere.
If we had to stay in Champaign, though, we decided to be deliberate about having a good time. Friends came over to share meals, or sometimes just dessert and coffee. One evening several of us wrote a primitive script and made a movie complete with subtitles. (Super 8 cameras had no sound.)
We went out to eat with friends and saw a movie. And as our downstairs neighbors Fred and Alice arrived back from a winter in Florida, we took brownies to their apartment to welcome them home.
Though the weather was cool, we drove to the Allerton mansion, packing a picnic, a thermos of hot coffee, and reading material. It was heavenly whiling away the afternoon on a blanket where both of us slept for 2 hours — unmindful of other visitors walking past.
Toward the end of the week, a surprise snowfall invited us outdoors to have a mini-snowball fight, after which we warmed ourselves with Russian spiced tea by the fireplace.
As vacation week ended, we agreed it had been delightful, as good a spring break as any. And the grand finale’ was a one-day turn-around drive to Wilmette and back to share Easter Sunday with Mom, Dad, Mary, Bervin, the aunties, and brother Tom.
“The Lord…. restores my soul.” (Psalm 23:3)