Tuesday, June 11, 2013

45 years ago today

Today is the 45th anniversary of my beginning to teach at UWSP.  I visited the town and liked what I saw.  But I needed a summer teaching assignment to be able to finance a move to Wisconsin from the East Coast.  One of the things I reported to my wife was having seen a newspaper article on local crime.  One of the items mentioned was the theft of a fishing pole from a garage sometime over the preceding month.  At a time when some of the big cities in the country where having riots related to the war in Vietnam, such a level of crime seemed inviting for a young couple with two young children.

We found that our next-door neighbor had moved to town from a small local village and he expressed a little tension over being in a big town of 25,000.  That was a good lesson in relativity for us, since we were from cities of a million.  We were surprised by comments that so-and-so had lunched with the president recently until we learned that local language used the term for the local college president.

We knew that Wisconsin was much colder than Maryland.  We survived our first winter, which, all these years later, was indeed one the coldest and snowiest we have experienced here.  We didn't realize that the comparatively late spring would be the challenge for our spirits.  We were used to a pretty good burst of azaleas by April 1 and had no idea that we would regularly wait until June 1 or later for flowers, fully leaved-out trees and all the spring birds.

We were accustomed to 99% humidity and 90° heat at 9 AM in June.  We felt the local weather, both cold and warm, was more hospitable than what we left.  It is true that we have humid days sometimes and have even exceeded 100° once in a while.  But Texans have told us to stop whining and to have sympathy for parts of the country that have very warm days all the way through November. We have found that 3 or 4 inches of snow accompanied by expert and tireless snowplow operators and their equipment is much less of an obstacle than half an inch of slippery stuff.  When it is quite cold, say zero or below, the snow is not as much of a road lubricant and is more manageable.

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