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Room 327
Written about November 1965


Background:  As a freshman at Oberlin College, I lived in Room 327 of Burton Hall, at the north end of the Men's Quad.  Surrounded by men's dormitories, the Quad was originally designated the Intramural Athletic Field, but it was almost never used for that purpose.

My view of the Quad, looking south from my desk, is seen in the colorized 1965 Polaroid below.  Kettering (the chemistry and biology building) and Barrows (another freshman dorm) are in the distance.

The Polaroid camera required setting the exposure manually, and I guessed wrong on my first try.  I filed this overexposed photo away and didn't rediscover it until 2018.  It reveals what I kept on my typing table (on the far right):  a Smith-Corona portable electric typewriter in its hard carrying case, with a small radio on the shelf below.

Modern technology allows me to enhance the reflection in the window and flip it, so that we can pretend to look into the room from a drone hovering six feet outside.  I think that's my roommate's desk and bookcase in the background.




I roomed with Dave Wilkinson, a flutist from Sausalito, who added some artwork to our walls and played classical music.  As an introvert, I was uncomfortable having a roommate, although we got along okay by practicing mutual avoidance.  When he was at the Conservatory, I was often in Room 327.  When he was in Room 327, I was often somewhere else.  He did accompany me to tour the WOBC studios.

I was also uncomfortable in the boisterous atmosphere of a men's dorm.

Freshmen customarily held "open houses" in the fall, welcoming visits from other students (especially those of the opposite sex).  Here's an advertisement of such an event the next year at Harkness, a freshman women's dorm, on Saturday, November 19, 1966.

For our open house at Burton, various  denizens planned special decorations.  In one room, there would be some sort of Halloween theme, with recordings of spooky Gregorian chants playing.

The top floor of the dorm promoted themselves as the Penthouse.  One floor below, however, our Room 327 planned nothing outlandish.  I expressed my feelings, appropriately enough, in the form of a fake 60-second radio commercial.


ANNCR:  (use sincere tone)

Third Center Burton has, from time to time, been characterized as a rather wild section, interested more in girls than in the finer things of life.  But there is a quiet, peaceful corner in the midst of this perversity:  Room 327.

Playboy Magazine has never found its way to 327.  There are no pinups on the walls except a Picasso, a woodcut, and a brass rubbing of a 16th-century tombstone.  No harsh sound is ever uttered, except by the phonograph when it's playing Stravinsky.  In short, when a lady enters Room 327, she is treated as a lady.

Should you tire of the exhilarating entertainment being offered in the rest of the section during the Burton open house, come to the peaceful end of Third Center.  See Tom Thomas quietly struggle to decode his FORTRAN error messages.  Hear Dave Wilkinson play Bach flute sonatas as only he can, on the record player.  That's the peaceful end of Third Center Burton:  Room 327.



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