Friday, February 24, 2012
Bill Sheasgreen: Claire, I'm trying to write a book about London Center and its 40 years. Would you help me?
Claire Mokrauer-Madden: Sure! I'd love to help. What can I do?
BS: There are so many facets to Elsie's history, and my specialties are World War II and later 20th century youth culture. I'm considering presenting Elsie in her youth as a post Mary Quant-loving, experiment of the 1970's, but I can't seem to mesh that with her Victorian facade. Any ideas how to resolve this?
CMM: I don't think the London Center was born as a bi-product of the swinging 60's. As one of many American study abroad programs to have been established in London in 1972, can you talk about studying abroad in London and how the experience has developed over the last 40 years?
BS: Perhaps. I've certainly seen it all happen. Disguised as a history lecturer, I was a part of London's 1970's scene on the King's Road in Chelsea. I walked the same streets as Mick Jagger. He learned his famous swagger from me. That's a little known fact that could go into the book!
CMM: You seem to make a lot of assertions that I find hard to believe.
BS: No, that's a true fact. I would put you in touch with the man himself to confirm, but we aren't on speaking terms anymore.
CMM: I'm not surprised to hear that. What can you say about Elsie in the 1980's? Didn't Ithaca buy the building then?
BS: Yes, the 80's were a good time for us. I remember when Ithaca bought this building, and the sellers were generous enough to include Fred as the caretaker in the deal.
CMM: Fred certainly was the glue of the London Center while he worked here. And if he was out of glue, it was nothing a few nails and/or screws, some honey mustard dressing and some white paint wouldn't fix.
BS: We were also doing much of our faculty selection from north London. Not that we were biased, but it was nice to have a good group of Arsenal fans.
CMM: I was about to take exception to that and tell you I wouldn't help you with the book! But if it was all in support of Arsenal, I bet you were blinded by passion.
BS: Perhaps we could include a chapter in the book about Elsie's Arsenal years.
CMM: Probably not. But a chapter about Fred would certainly be nice. Except for the London Center's more recent alums, most students who passed through our doors will have at some point been made to think that they opened the door into Fred's head and nearly knocked him down. The closest thing we now have to Fred's practical joking is you Aprils Fools jokes.
BS: Oh, yes! Shall we have a chapter about how successfully we've celebrated April 1st for so many years?
CMM: Perhaps. Are you bummed that April 1st is on a Saturday this year and you won't be at work for it?
BS: Who says I won't be at work for it?
CMM: True point. But will you be designing a prank for yourself?
CMM: I don't think that's a word. Don't use it in the book.
BS: But I will possibly be including April Fools jokes in the book.
CMM: So have I helped you?
BS: Barely! We haven't made it to the 90's or the 21st century!
CMM: Perhaps they can be included in volume 2?
BS: You think I'm going to make it to volume 2?
CMM: I have high hopes for volume 1. That'll be the hard one. Volume 2 will probably write itself.
BS: I like your optimism, whether or not I share it. You've been a big help, and I have a lot of ideas to use. Volume I of the London Center's history is going to be amazing!
CMM: I wait with baited breath!
*Bill really is working on a book celebrating the 40 years of history in the London Center. We look forward to the final product!
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