Entrance to the Caesar "Odney" Dining Hall, in September 2006My favorite UD dining hall, for sentimental reasons. Rodney was my freshman year dining hall, and I had SO many great times there. As I write this, it's almost been -- oh, man – well over 20 years since I first stepped foot in that place! I still remember the first meals there, the place was packed. Though, according to UD, Rodney is currently the second most used dining hall -- first is Russell, third is Pencader, fourth is Kent.
Well, Rodney was constructed in 1966. There were some modifications made in the Summer of 1991, right before I landed at UD. Then additional renovations and improvements the following year; that’s when they opened up the place a bit, installing those circular window type things in the interior brick walls. Hey, with more light in the place, we could actually see what we were eating! Rodney became the “hot” dining hall that '92 - '93 school year, and even won some kind of national design award. (Was the award for “Best Pizza Line?”) 1999 was when they brought in the Pasta Bar (I think), and then there was a top to bottom renovation of Rodney in 2005.
Weekend Brunch. Killer. It’s what Rodney is most remembered for. And yes, I’ve heard about the expertise of the Omelet Lady (after my time). Well, I loved brunch at Rodney, because since they served both breakfast and lunch foods simultaneously (thusly br-unch, dummy Digger), you had all the components available for a bacon cheeseburger. Nice, my favorite food. Well, that and donuts.
The Jukebox. Hey, maybe this is what Rodney is most remembered for. During '91 - '92, that jukebox pumped out Naughty by Nature's "O.P.P." among other selections indicative of the era…more about that later in this chapter!
The Rodney Underground. For those of you who never knew it: It was this place where you could get cheese fries and other greasy stuff, during the later hours. Yes, on points. And it was way popular back in my day. Still confused where it was? Say when you enter the front doors, and start your way up the steps to Rodney Dining Hall. Those windows to the left -- that is where the Rodney Underground was. Yep, where they then put the Rodney Fitness Center! Treadmills replaced cheesesteaks there, in 1997.
Goodbye Rodney Dining Hall! Along with the rest of West Campus, RDH shut in May 2015. I made sure to get down to UD before it closed, and paid my way in for one last glorious meal. It wasn’t about the food, it was about the ambiance, man. And ya’ know what? Felt pretty much the same as when I ate there as a freshman, eons ago.
Before we get to your stories, here’s some personal memories of Rodney Dining Hall -- hey, humor me! Here we go…
Our dear close friend and floormate Maria (also a native of North Jersey, like me) was a really sloooooow eater. Maria, you sure you're Italian? Well, we love Maria, but one time after we were all pretty much done eating and about to head back to Dickinson, Maria came back to the table with a big salad...like, huge. And we knew we weren't going anywhere for a while. I think she's still working on that salad, as I type this.
Well, one time me and my Dickinson next door neighbor and frequent partner-in-crime were finishing up a meal at Rodney. We were just fucking around, and Chubbs mixed a bunch of unfinished food in a small bowl -- I remember it being melted frozen yogurt and some chunks of tomatoes, and other stuff. I dared him that if he consumed the concoction, I'd buy him a case of beer. He said he'd do it, no problem...and then didn't get through two bites. He didn't puke or anything, just said it was, “fucking disgusting,” and stopped eating. Good for Chubbs, doing the cost / benefit analysis! I think I was only offering a case of Beast, anyway.
Stealing trays. Well, more like borrowing them. We were good kids, for the most part. Post a snowstorm (this was probably mid February '92) we were of course on the hunt for sleds. Hey, anything better than a dining hall tray? We did the trays-under-the-front-of-the-coat-thing, so we had these fairly obvious giant rectangular shapes to our chests. Successfully got outside of Rodney Dining Hall, and then thinking we were free and clear, took the trays out. Whoops, there were a couple of UD worker guys right there, who were like, "HEY! Where are you going with those trays?!" We were like, "Uhhhhh...", and then they were like, "Because there is a great hill over by..." We exhaled, they were cool, had no intention of busting us. By the way, I think the hill they recommended was really just a large mound of snow by the Conover Apartments...and afterwards, we returned the trays.
You know how you’ll also have nicknames for people you see everywhere, but don’t actually know them personally? In Rodney during the '91 - '92 school year, there was this quite attractive raven-haired brunette, whom we first spotted across the dining hall, drinking coffee…and thusly, we dubbed her "Coffee Girl." One time -- and this was probably post Spring Break -- she was sporting a fierce tan, of which we remarked to ourselves, “She’s darker than coffee!” And then of course, she was drinking coffee -- and I guess it was just too hot for Coffee Girl to handle, so she had to, ahem, blow on it for a while. Um, excuse me for a moment…okay, I’m back. That was quick.
During that same school year, someone tossed out an old couch, outside of Rodney Dining Hall. This was towards the start of the Dickinson path -- before you get up to the pool -- and the couch had been chucked over the chain-linked fence, so it was on the train tracks side. The couch landed upside down, providing a perfect little cave for a family of rabbits to live in. So, I knew some girls who would sneak lettuce and carrots and stuff out of the dining hall, and feed the bunnies through the fence. Awwwwww.
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