Sunday, February 15, 2015

Tropical Chill

I served as Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Palm Beach Atlantic University way down in Florida back in the mid-1990’s. One of my “extra” duties for that institution was directing the self-study for re-accreditation with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Shortly after that project was successful for the maximum period of 10 years, we moved back to Arkansas. When that decade was up in the early 2000’s, I was working for the De Queen Bee and Palm Beach Atlantic called me and wanted me to come back down there to help with another self-study for re-accreditation. Nothing succeeds like success. They made me a good offer as Associate Provost and, shortly after I arrived, I became Dean of Arts and Sciences again, as I worked to initiate the self-study.
The university provided a nice place for us to live right next door to my workplace. Of course, since this was south Florida, we did not take warm clothes, nor did we take blankets, comforters or any of that northern stuff. But the accursed air conditioner in our apartment was managed somewhere other than in the apartment—we had no control over it. It was freezing in there. I told my wife we would not need that refrigerator at all. I mean, you could have hung meat in our bedroom. In fact, one night I dreamed Rocky Balboa was in there punching a side of beef.
Anyway, on our first shopping trip, we found a store with good comforters, not an easy task down there. Really, who buys comforters in West Palm Beach? But we found a good one and used it not only as bed cover, but we sat side by side to watch television or read at night with that comforter wrapped around us. (We still have it and I think it is the warmest cover we have).
Palm Beach Atlantic University is an urban institution situated in downtown West Palm Beach, about a mile from City Place, an urban oasis full of fountains and palm trees, restaurants and shops where people of every description gather. Our entertainment during that period of time was walking to City Place and people watching (and listening). Once I heard an altercation between a husband and wife. An elderly lady who had been with them had gone on before them into a store and the wife said, “Well, she’s YOUR mother, not mine.” And he replied curtly, “I know that, but you are a woman and you understand such things better than I.” That made her mad for some reason and she stomped off, leaving him torn between two women. The elderly lady came back out and said, “Where’s Mildred?” He said, “She needed to find a restroom.”

City Place provided good people-watching and -listening. There were a thousand stories in that area every night. I thought about writing a series of them entitled “City Place Speaks,” but it was too cold in our apartment to write anything. I have never been as cold as I was in south Florida. By the way, Palm Beach Atlantic University got re-accredited for another 10 years. That warms my heart.

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