Monday, September 12, 2005

More CCS opener weekend impressions:

It was remarkable how many people -- and what a diversity of people! -- passed through the CCS doors on Saturday. It was a blast to meet so many of them while doing sketches for 'em, all the while looking up and over at the other lines standing at the sketch stations.

One gent wearing glasses came over and leaned in toward me, introducing himself as Jacob Jarvela's father [note: in the original post, I mistakingly named this fellow as James Kochalka's father!] Jim and asking me if Forrest J. Ackerman and Famous Monsters of Filmland had played any part in my growing up. "You know it!" I replied, and we ended up talking about his own affection for FM and his visiting the Ackermansion in its glory days, before the lack of interest in it becoming a museum and the auctions eroding the Ackerman collection. I mentioned my visiting Ray Harryhausen's London home in London back in the early 1990s, and when I told Jim about Mr. Harryhausen showing me his Gustave Dore first editions collection, building up to the revelation of an original oil painting by Dore, Jim paused and said, "I just had a shiver go up my spine."

Robyn Chapman is already one of the anchors at CCS, though I expect she might shrug or blush that off just now. Amid Robyn coordinating many of the CCS opening day tasks, all while clicking as many photos as she could, I bustled in Saturday with a trio of folders with handout material for my first class tomorrow afternoon. Just what she needed: another distraction. Robyn accepted it without hesitation and made sure we went over everything before Marj and I left for the evening. Bless you, Robyn!

Yesterday afternoon, CCS board member Bayle Drubel and her husband Richard hosted a big-fun BBQ shindig at their beautiful home in Hanover. It was a motly crew of CCS faculty, board members and students from all walks of life, there with families, high energy, and appetites. We converged at CCS at 4 PM, and I brought in the laserdisc player Alan Goldstein donated to CCS and a heap of laserdiscs for the CCS library from Alan's and my own collection, and I got to meet and chat with a few more of the students (forgive me, folks, it will take me time to match names and faces). John from Ludlow arrived in his pickup with his brother, whom I met, and Alexis in his pickup ended up being our 'point man' in the caravan of vehicles en route to Hanover. Marj and I drove Sam and Ross -- two CCS students from Massachusetts and West Virginia, respectively -- to and from the BBQ, dropping 'em off at the venerable Coolidge Inn upon our homeward-bound pass through White River. To think, some months ago, this is the lobby I walked into for the CCS fundraiser where I met Alison Bechdel and where Art Spiegelman spoke -- now, some of the students are living here. It's all real now; it's more real this morning, as they're ending their first class ever on the first day ever.

Bayle and Richard were incredibly personable and generous hosts, and their multi-tiered back yard gardens provided a memorable arena for the first CCS blowout. Or, I should say, second -- some of the students were still bleary-eyed from their own partying the night before, and that's the important first blow-out, where the real bonds and lasting energy happens. Anyhoot, this was the first blow-out we got to indulge in, and it rolled from a little after 4 until 6:30, the day before school starts. As James said, "A great way to kick off our first year." We got to chat with some of the Board members and a few students (including one from Holland!), chow down on hot dogs and/or burgers, and wander Richard's splendid gardens, which the Drubel's cultivated in a mere four years (according to Richard, it was all brush, brambles, and dirt when they moved in). The little kids loved it, and were soon rolling down the lawn at the base of the gardens, down toward the Dartmouth pond while students, faculty, and friends of same played frisbee and Sam soaked in the warm waters of the pool on tier two or three, down from the house.

Richard was a fascinating man, first talking about comic strip favorites (and bringing down the local paper to show me the return of Berke Breathed and Opus to the color Sunday pages) before conversation eased into talk of plants and his garden. I rather teasingly replied to his talk of how obsessive garden-and-plant lovers could be with a question about sundews (tiny carnivorous plants that once grew along the pond my kids grew up with on Lower Dover Road in Marlboro), and Richard knew exactly what I was referring to. No carnivorous plants in Richard's garden, but no telling what grows in the greenhouses we passed on our way out to the cars at the end of the BBQ...

Marj and I ended up sitting at the peak of the grassy hill that inclines down to the pond, where kids little and big were rolling with glee. The little ones, of course, could do so with impunity; it was comical to see older bodies trying for the same pleasures discovering head-to-neck-to-shoulder distances proving no longer condusive to the graceful rolling of childhood, or the post-roll dizzy rattling their pins.

The pond, it seems, is not the most alluring body of water to be found in NH. Bayle grimaced as she described the carp-kill that had to be removed from the pond a couple years earlier, while I watched what must have been trout breaking the surface to scarf down the late-afternoon insect cusine flitting over the surface. The pond is a fixture of Darmouth winters -- a preferred skating surface, and also home to some sort of polar-bear-like ritual involving Dartmouth students chopping through the ice to swim in the winter waters -- and a wedding gathering at the Dartmouth Outing Club at the end of the pond two or three houses away were serenading all with a lively mix of music blaring. This led to dancing by the cattails at the edge of the pond, as Richard told Marj and I the Outing Club is also the site for an annual Jewish ritual involving the casting out of sins via bread thrown onto the water. That means the fish are growing fat on sin at least once a year, which is already feeding a story idea for down the road... another unexpected dividend from yesterday's gathering.

There was much, much more, but that's all I care to share right now. It was a great day, all in all, and I can't wait for tomorrow -- my first day of teaching. Will let you all know how it goes....

Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,