Forever Young, 1970
When I went off to college I thought I was going to tear up the world with my photography. It had never occurred to me that I could actually study photography in college. I’d gone to a college prep school where the expectation for male students was that you’d study practical things like history, English, science and physics with an eye toward becoming a doctor, teacher, lawyer or other respected member of the community. Your art, if you had one, would be practiced on the side. Mind you, most of my female classmates were far more academically accomplished and have gone on to achieve great things. Yet it was fully okay for some of them to go off to major universities to study textiles. Textiles?
When I got to college I found that a few seniors had a lock on the photography for the campus newspaper and yearbook. They had fancier cameras and more versatile lenses. They had cars—freshmen weren't allowed to keep cars in those days—and better still, they controlled the access to the school’s darkroom.
A more determined person would have bulldozed through those roadblocks. I didn’t have the benefit of that confidence, though. So instead, I turned my eye and my camera to the city outside the college walls and took pictures on campus only occasionally.
The picture above was taken at school at an outdoor amphitheater located on what was then known as the “women’s side” of the campus. (In those days the men’s and women’s undergraduate colleges operated under different names and faced each other across a lake known sometimes by students of both schools as the “Bay of Pigs”).
The event was likely some kind of band concert, the kind of activity that a school that had once had extremely close Southern Baptist connections would have looked upon cautiously. They didn’t have many night concerts back then because they didn’t have a good venue for them and well, you know, it might have led to dancing.
When I took this picture I knew who most of the people in it were and had at least a passing friendship with many of them. We were young, full of piss and vinegar, as the saying goes, and anxious to be turned loose on a world of opportunity.
Today most of the people in this picture are in their sixties. Every now and then I see one of their names in the paper. They're still kicking us some dust. I don't like to see their pictures, though, because I like to remember us lazing around on the lawn, telling tales, flirting with girls, throwing Frisbees, playing with the dogs and doing all the other things you do when you think you'll be forever young.