Big Dickie F from Hillside Road, September 2006Ohhhhhhh, man. Here we go. Dickinson was built in 1968, and let’s get this out of the way right now…
Rumor: When Dickinson was built, all the rooms were meant to be singles for grad students.
Dude, this is: False. Though, it’s a very common rumor, and seems to make a lot of sense when you hear it. The best I understand it, is that the rooms were always meant to be doubles, but the plans were for each individual room to be considerably bigger. But then of course, a little thing called “money” became a problem. Meaning, the lack thereof -- this was of course decades ago, before UD was absolutely rolling in dough. Thusly, to save money on building materials, labor, etc., the total number of planned rooms remained the same, but each room was shrunk down to the boxes they became.
Now, if there was ever a dorm complex that UD alumni feel nostalgic about, it’s Dickinson. And I’m not just saying that because I lived in 116 Dickinson C. Okay, fine, I am biased…but in compiling Glory Days at Delaware, a consensus became apparent; people loved the experience of living in Dickinson. And would redo it in a heartbeat. (And actually, UD has run some studies that back that up; the perimeter layout of the rooms around a central lounge on each floor make for a very positive first-year social experience.)
Writing this chapter is somewhat challenging. Not because of lack of material, rather, I have SO many Dickinson memories -- but wanna keep this chapter’s page count reasonably in check. Hey, what can I say? Dickinson is possibly what I'm most sentimental about at UD; it’s where college "started" for me, and set the stage for everything UD that came thereafter...and what led to this site. Some of the things distinctly Dickinson…
Dickinson is like a billion miles away. Or, so it seemed. I was in UD’s Honors Program, and at the time, freshmen Honors kids were all housed in Dickinson...so I knew going into UD in '91 that I'd be living in there, just didn't have my exact room assignment yet. The day I was down at UD for orientation, I remember swinging by Dickinson in the car with my parents, and it seemed SO far from central campus. Far from where “all the action” is. I remember being kinda upset -- not sure exactly why, but I felt like, “Great, Honors kids are already perceived as nerds, and they even intentionally separate us from the cool kids.”
I thought it was going to be depressing living in Dickinson. Man, how wrong I was. And also an immature initial reaction; smart kids can’t be cool? Hey, I think I’m smart…and I’m way fucking cool. So there’s one cool kid in Dickinson, right there. And there were many others. Well, the first year Honors housing later moved to Russell in Fall, 1995. I remember the explanation at the time being, “Russell is wheelchair accessible, Dickinson is not.” But shouldn’t all buildings be wheelchair accessible?
My theory for the real reason, is that some kids who were accepted into the Honors Program saw the location of Dickinson, and it was a deal breaker -- they decided not to attend Delaware. Again, that’s not confirmed administrative fact, that’s simply a Digger theory (but my theories have a habit of making sense…I think).
“The Path.” Okay, Dickinson is far, but it’s not that far. What was deceiving was that when you drive over there (with your parents) to take your first look, is that you don't really see the path and then the shortcut under the tracks. Though, I’ll admit it, there were times when I was walking back from class or whatever, and when I’d make the turn up the path by Rodney Dining Hall, I’d utter, "Can I get the fuck back to my room, already?"
The Pool! You know it, you love it…you were never sure what it actually was. Halfway up the path, adjacent to the Dickinson parking lot, it’s the Oaklands pool! And I grew up in Oakland, NJ (no "s"), so I was like, “Hey! Whadaya’ know?” Chubbs predicted that UD would buy the pool...hey, it can still happen.
The Dickinson apartments. On the ground (lobby) floors, that connect A / B, C / D, and E / F. Typically they were occupied by the hall directors, and then there's one for the complex coordinator...but then I knew this guy -- regular student, my year -- who had one all to himself. He was allergic to everything, and that was the reason he scored it. Needed his own pad. I don’t think he had allergies to beer, though. Hmmmmm.
The Computing Site. I lived right above it. Spent many late nights there. Well, that is, until whatever time it closed at night. Having it one floor down was convenient, but deadly; it was that much easier to procrastinate writing a paper, when the computer lab is right downstairs.
In its final years though -- as more and more kids didn’t have a need for a computing site on West Campus -- the space became just another study area. Dubbed the, “Dickinson Cooler,” as it was the only room in Dickinson with air conditioning!
Sleepus Interruptus: The Train. I mean, really, what do I need to say? I recall it coming through two or three times a night. My room didn’t directly face it, but close enough. We could see it out our window. I also remember during the first few days of our fall semester, visiting AB’s friend from high school who lived in Dickinson A. Her room did directly face the tracks (she was on the third or fourth floor), and with the late summer heat, she had the window open. When that train came through, felt like you could reach out and touch it. Oh, and it was LOUD. Fortunately, I can sleep through an atomic bomb.
The Floor Lounges. This is the big one, and what I think people who lived in Dickinson have the most memories of. Man, were those floor lounges fun. But yes, I do know that some of you unfortunately had to live in them -- extended housing! Yep, they’re sometimes used for that; this practice was going on (as needed) as early as 1988, maybe decades before that. Hey, I feel sorry for you guys who never knew hanging out (among other things) in a Dickinson lounge!
From the Goodbye to West Campus event at Alumni Weekend 2015Goodbye to Dickinson! In 2014, UD confirmed that Rodney would be done after the 2014-2015 school year, and initially, it sounded like Dickinson was gonna hold on for a couple more years. But then the decision came down that Dickinson was done as well, and that the entire West Campus would finally be eliminated, after years of delaying the inevitable.
Surprising to many though, was that UD announced that it’d be selling off the land, rather than redeveloping it for different usage. As of this writing in June 2015, no word yet on what will become of the Dickinson property. Kickstarter to buy it and keep Dickinson intact, anyone?
I believe it was Chubbs who busted a chair in our first floor Dickinson C lounge. Think he was just leaning back on it, and it broke, no big deal. It remained in our lounge for a bit, but then we remembered that there's the rule that if no individual fesses up to causing the damage, the entire floor gets charged for it (they spread out the cost over everybody)...
...SO, mid to late May '92, we pulled off a Mission: Very Possible, and in the middle of the night swapped out our busted chair, for another chair from another lounge. It was even from a Dickinson D lounge, which at the time was (and might still be) accessible with a Dickinson C PDI card. We ran that chair right through the main lobby area, from D to C. It was awesome.
Okay, I remember this one pretty damn well. I was taking a shower, and the fire alarm goes off. Law of averages; it’s gonna happen. So, I proceeded to jump out of the shower, wrap a towel around my waist, scoot down the stairs and out the door, to the little driving lane between Dickinson C and the Dickinson A / B commons. This was at night, and I went out there bare feet (I never wore flip-flips in the shower, I braved it). Had shampoo in the hair, the whole deal. People were laughing, and so was I. And then it started raining. So, that’s how I finished my shower. Oh, and I think the fire alarm was just a drill.
Actually, more like “Bike Stunts Gone Bad.” This guy Curt we were friends with was a mountain bike enthusiast, and at night he was trying to show off his new bike. This was on the path between Dickinson A and the tracks. Curt wasn't even trying big stunts, was just riding up and down the little grassy inclines. First pseudo-wipeout: he hit his breaks and tried to balance in-place, but then fell SIDEWAYS. As if he was frozen on his bike, and someone pushed him over. It seemed to defy physics. Second psuedo-wipeout: if you know the path there, it has a metal fence (used to be chain-linked fence) that blocks out the train tracks. For whatever reason, Curt was riding right at the fence, and exclaimed, "No brakes!" and crashed right into it. To this day, I have no idea why the hell that happened. Well, we were on the ground, laughing. Curt was on the ground, recovering (but he was okay).
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