Glow Around His Head – Two Memories

Mackienzie Hall in the 1960s.
You can see all three buildings here. Mackienzie Hall is straight ahead. State Hall is to the left. The Maccabee’s Building, which housed the Board of Education back then, is down the block, a light colored building behind Mackenzie Hall.  We can’t see the library in this photo but it was directly across from State Hall on Cass and across the side street from Mackenzie Hall.    ( Photo from the Wayne State University archives)

My sister Pearl’s version:

okay. i know you always deny saying this, but here’s how i remember it.

you said somebody who worked with you in the wayne cafeteria said you have to meet this guy. I think you two would really hit it off and you said cool and then on a subsequent day, the person said there he is and he was at the top of one of those school building stairways and you said — i swear you said this to me because at the time i thought “woah! she’s got it bad!!!” — you said the first time you saw him “it was like he had a glow around his head or something.” i stole that for the “in the time before the men came piece” when the lil’ amazon says almost those exact words…

amazing that i remember this so clearly, have even told it to people, and it doesn’t ring a bell at all. I don’t know why. maybe the glow had to do with memory erasure and he erased it from your mind so you wouldn’t know he was from another planet or something… who knows? all i know is, if i dreamed it, it was an amazing dream. ….

My Version.

What really happened…includes the cafeteria, the actual meeting and a stairway.  No glow.
The first time I saw Jim, I was working in the Wayne State University cafeteria, behind the food counter. A woman who worked with me, who wasn’t a student but a regular employee, said her boyfriend was coming through the line and she always gave him free food. It was Jim who came through and got his free food and didn’t make any impression on me to speak of. I didn’t think about him again until I met him later. This must have been the winter of 1966 or the fall.

The Northern high students walked out in the spring of 1966. Northwestern high organized a supporting boycott and my sister Pearl was the head of it. I used to study in the main library’s sociology room. As I was leaving to go to my next class, a guy came up and asked if I was Rev. Cleage’s daughter. I said I was. He asked if I was leading the Northwestern boycott and I said no, that was my sister. We made arrangements to meet after my class on the picket line in front of the Board of Education Building. We did and later sat around for several hours talking in the ‘corner’ at the cafeteria in Mackenzie Hall. I felt very comfortable with him, which I usually didn’t do with people I just met. He tried to convince me to join a sorority and convert the girls to revolution. There wasn’t a chance I was going to do that. He also told me that he was “nice”. I asked if he meant as in some people were revolutionaries and he was “nice”. He said yes, that’s what he meant.  We saw each other almost everyday after that.

One day during the fall of 1967, I was going to a creative writing workshop that was on the third floor of State Hall. The stairway had ceiling to floor windows and I saw him, Jim, walking down the sidewalk across Cass Ave., in front of the library. Before I knew what I was doing, I was down the stairs and on my way out the door when I realized I needed to go to class and went back up the stairs.

That’s what really happened.

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26 thoughts on “Glow Around His Head – Two Memories”

  1. How strange that your memories are so different. I met my husband in my first week at university, when we got talking on the way to a tour of the law courts. He was in the year ahead of me but had missed the tour the previous year. We started going out a couple of months later.

  2. Your version is probably right, but the one with the glow is so much better. 🙂 I would stick with that one. I’m sure the grand kids like that one, too.

    And again, maybe he is an alien.

    1. Two of my teenage granddaughters spent the night. I think I will have them read it when they wake up and see what they say.

      An alien or a saint. He did give me that hint about being good… No, I guess that was being nice, which might not be the same.

  3. I really like both versions and both have a romantic touch. One day I will be courageous enough to write about these things too. In the meantime I enjoy reading yours 😉 Thanks again, Kristin!

    1. I was going to write about my memories about time spend in Mackenzie Hall as a student but as I was going over my binder full of information about me, I came across this email from 2001 and thought it would work better, plus, it was already written!

    1. It was an email between my sister and me written in 2001. I took out a few sentences and left it just as it was. Maybe I told her the halo story as an amusement for myself, and she took it seriously and I promptly forgot it. I wonder what else I’ve told people that they remember wrong and I can’t even correct it because because I have no idea what bizzare memories they have of my life?

  4. An excellent essay. It is always startling what someone else remembers compared to what we think we know. I have a very clear memory of how a few friends first met each other, but it is because it was a tiny slice of time. It’s not that the mind and memory play tricks, but that the perspective of time distorts our focus.

  5. We have one of those daily calendars – ours happens to be about memories. Today’s saying from playwright, Harold Pinter, says: “There are some things one remembers even though they may never have happened.” How perfectly appropriate to your post is that?!! 🙂

    1. I remember reading the book “The Children of Sanchez” where all of the family members remembered everything differently. Turns out that seems to be the case in all families.

  6. Fickle memories, I’m sure there’s a whole raft of plots that could revolve around this sort of thing. I’ve often thought I’d like to use it in another way, to explore more about my own youth and things that happened to me, by mining my siblings’ memories. You’ve done it so well here that I think it would work very nicely. Another project to add to the growing list.

  7. I see we have a case here of “she said-she said”….
    Hmmmm….
    Who to believe?
    I’m still undecided here…..
    Sorry, I’ve always found you a credible source,
    but Pearl seems to have a more romantic streak.
    I’m a sucker for that!!
    😉

  8. Memories. Memories. So hard to prove or disprove. I got caught out this week with a false memory of a house where someone lived. B8t that was easily checked. Two interesting memories.

  9. Memory is an interesting thing for sure. I’ve just finished reading Angel in the Rubble – the author says she was right behind a guy coming down the stairs when the North Tower collapsed. She remembers them being on the 13th floor – he remembers them being much higher up. Weird.

  10. Kristin, don’t you just love it when a piece already written works so well. I really like it when the writing just sort of flows out the end of the pen, or in case of the computer, the ends of my fingers. Obviously you have that knack. Liked both versions — sounded like my sis and me.

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