One of the fun things about this year’s Fargo Marathon was that we were unable to find a hotel room, and consequently had to stay on the campus of North Dakota State University, where I was a student in the early 1980’s. The University opened up some of their dormitories to marathoners like us, who were unable to find lodging elsewhere, and we ended up booking reservations in Reed-Johnson Hall. It so happens that I lived in Johnson Hall for four years, so I was looking forward to returning to a place that I had once fondly called home!
We drove up outside the dorm and parked in the same 30 minute zone that I frequented years ago, before walking inside. The resident assistants manning the check-in desk seemed genuinely excited to hear that I had registered as a freshman at this exact location 30 years earlier, and the young man in charge gave me a beaming smile when he asked if I had a room preference. I came to Fargo knowing it was extremely unlikely that I would get the exact room I had inhabited for almost 4 years, but I asked anyway: “How ‘bout 276?” I held my breath while he checked, and my heart skipped a beat when he finally replied “Yep, it’s still open!”
I led the way to the room, with Sue and the female assistant from Weible Hall trailing behind. I already knew which stairwell to take, and which way to turn when we reached the 2nd floor. I had walked the exact same path thousands of times, and could have found the room with my eyes closed, even now, 30 years later! The assistant told us about the rules, and how to locate the two bathrooms, but I was already familiar with all she had to say. The only disappointment was that the nearest shower facility, which was only three feet from the door, had been designated “Women Only” during this marathon weekend, meaning I would have to walk to the other end of the floor for the “Men Only” facilities.
I was surprised how things hadn’t really changed, but then, how much really can be different about a 15 foot square room? The view from the window obviously was the same, with the Reed-Johnson/Weible courtyard still prominent, and the Residence Dining Center (RDC) and Weible crosswalk in the background. The desks and bed frames were now wood instead of the heavy metal units we used. The closet doors had been unfortunately removed at some point, giving the young men of the present day even less privacy than what we enjoyed. Each floor now has its own laundry room instead of just having one in the basement, and I was pleased to discover that the machines no longer required coins. The rotary wall phones were also gone, having been replaced by hookups for computers.
I discovered that taking a trip down memory lane, and being within walking distance of the Fargodome were just two of the many wonderful experiences that came from staying in Johnson Hall while running in the Fargo Marathon this year. Who knows, staying in my old dormitory may just have to become another yearly tradition, just like running the race has become! Thank you, North Dakota State University, for making the 2011 Fargo Marathon weekend a most memorable one for this old Bison!