Lori Campbell is a former MU journalism student who currently works for MU's Accounting Services. She was heavily involved in dog rescue for more than 25 years and owns eight dogs and three donkeys.
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I have been following the saga of the Niedermeyer Building with a great deal of interest because it brings back memories to me of a three-story house that I lived in on Paquin Street around 1973 and 1974. Across the street were some small white houses that, the last time I looked, were still there. Over the years I have told the story of my time in this house to many people and it remains one of the best memories of my college years. Unfortunately the house was torn down shortly after I moved out to make way for a parking lot. It almost brings me to tears whenever I happen to go down that street. But I always still see it in my mind’s eye.
The summer before our senior year, my best friend and I rented most of the first floor and advertised for another roommate who also became a good friend. I was a journalism school student, Suzi was in dietetics and Sheila was a nursing student who planned to go back to Appalachia to work. I heard a lot of stories about Appalachia and she had a dulcimer that an old man had made her when she worked there the previous summer. The strange, quiet and older son of the landlady lived in the only other apartment on the first floor, located in a back corner.
Carl was a Ph.D. student in Physics and conversation with him was non-stop and incredibly interesting. He had a hard time dealing with the world the way it was and always ranted about how all the worlds’ problems come down to overpopulation. I still remember his philosophies on this and never forgot it. I tell people about his ideas all the time and still believe he was right. Carl was also an artist and his top floor attic apartment was full of his paintings. He invented things too and one day took several of us upstairs to his room to show us a small "space ship" he had made that lifted up off the ground. The summer after I moved over to Windsor Street he came to visit me and then I never saw him again. I called over to the house one day about a year later to ask about him and was told he had committed suicide.
How could I ever forget the group of wild guys who lived in the basement rooms. I remember the one with flaming red hair and the hippie who had a leather shop downtown. He also had a "business" downstairs where lots of young people drifted in and out or passed out on the couch on the front door "lounge" couch. Lin Ho lived down there too. He was a Vietnamese student who loved to talk, but he talked so fast I could barely keep up with his conversation. He was always stopping in to talk about everything and he had a lot to say. Almost every night I would hear his staccato voice going on and on, coming up through the heating vents as I drifted off to sleep. I had a crush on Burt, a soft-spoken and very intelligent English major who also lived downstairs and who I ate with one day at the natural foods restaurant down the street in the bottom of the apartment building on the corner. I had felt so sad when I watched out the window as his family drove him back home at the end of the summer.
Towards the end of the summer we all had a party on the front porch. We were like family by then. We made dishes of food and I put classical music on the record player by the window. I can still hear Beethoven’s Sixth Symphony as we ate and discussed the state of the world. At the end of the party I sat with Carl on the porch and he pointed out a hippie walking down the street. "See him?" he said. “They are dying out now." And so again, he was right. They pretty much did after that.
Things will never be the same again, the ending of the great '60s era and beginnings of a whole new kind of world. My short time in the house on Paquin Street stays with me always. I miss that building terribly. I did spend a little time in the Niedermeyer Building while I lived on Paquin Street. I had a friend who lived there and visited her there a couple times. The Niedermeyer Building brings back the same memories to me and I am incredibly happy that this building will survive even though the Paquin Street one did not. The little house on Windsor Street still survives and I drive by there often to see it. You cannot underestimate the power of memory that these buildings bring to countless former students.