Saturday, May 31, 2008

Move-Out, II

or, Gales Ferry

Readers of the Foreign Devil, apologies are owed. This post comes late, and we hate to think you may feel forgotten by the Foreign Devil almost as much as we hate to think you may have forgotten it. I have not been killed, been abducted, or eloped; but I've had the good fortune of entering a world without internet access, about which more later.

The pictures I posted on the 14th gave the impression that L-dub was already deserted. Of course I felt deserted, but this blog is not after all a place for me to go on about my feelings--plenty of people were still around and I myself had only moved across the court. By the end of the day a new crowd of women's rowers and band members had moved into entryway F (F11 became a laundry depot), and I'd moved fairly comfortably into B21. On reflection, it was a strange thing to feel comfortable there, but I was my teammates and it was, after all, a nicer room, so I can't blame myself. Nevertheless, it just wasn't right to be at Yale without the regular cast of characters.

Some people were still around, though, and staying in town gave me the opportunity to see off the last stragglers and to say hello to the first crowds moving in for the summer. On Sunday I ran to the heights of East Rock (named for its being to the west of West Rock). I cursed myself for not bringing a camera, and was consoled by one last dinner with Dr. Manutius, who had just finished a journalistic bacchanal of several weeks which this blog will not dignify by providing details. On Monday, however, the much anticipated return of Mr. Fang for the summer was the big news. Together with the Politician we made our way after dinner (which, thanks to Commencement, and to local restauranteurs' awareness of proud parents' willingness to pay, was considerably more expensive than usual) to the top of the great Tower of the building known to students as SSS, officially called who-knows-what, where, as is seen above, even a deserted Yale had not lost any of its appeal.

My next concern was to frantically pack for the Ferry, and I'm sure with all the things I had to do I was a less than satisfactory host to the eminent Mr. Fang. Regardless, it was great to be his roommate again, if only for a single night. To the left is proof of his visit--one of the rare photographs of that elusive gentleman. In the picture he's engaged in something complex and possibly illegal on his computer. I can never understand his projects but they all amaze me. To the right is my own computer, where a posting of our very own Foreign Devil can be seen. And the next morning after practice, amidst a flurry of bustling boxes and bags down stairs and rustling them onto buses, we left for the Ferry. I was not happy to have finally left Yale, but within a few hours Gales Ferry had become one of my favorite places.

Just upstream of New London on the Thames (and in New London the river's name is pronounced as it's spelt) are two large bridges across the river. A mile further upstream is the berth of the Nautilus. Continuing upstream, as the Yale boats will when they race Harvard here in June, one passes a large submarine base, and then Harvard's as-yet deserted camp at Red Top, and then, a mile farther on, Yale's ancient compound at the Ferry. Yale men have raced and trained here since 1878, but parts of the compound date back to before the Revolution. The boathouse itself, seen to the right, represents one of James Gamble Rogers' excursions from the Collegiate Gothic so familiar to Yale students, and houses not only the boats but all the freshman rowers, on the second floor.

Everywhere at the Ferry is the sense of tradition. Crews from more than a hundred years ago look down on us in the dining hall, and rituals like the after-dinner limericks have been going on as long as anyone can remember. A week or two ago I received a gift from one of my aunts, about the American scullers training for the 1984 Olympics, plenty of whom rowed for Yale at some point. In the book were places and institutions I've come to know, and the faces of these characters look down on me from photos around the Ferry. It's close to a religious experience, without the religious content. Relics are everywhere: over the entrance to my bedroom is an oar that propelled a Yale crew to Olympic gold and to a world record.

And in the midst of this, my normal life goes on. Practice, usually twice a day, meals and sleep constitute most of it. There isn't really much else to do. Technology is discouraged at the Ferry; I can only post this because I walked about a mile to a local library. We're even discouraged from using iPods and speakers. The only authorized music sources are an ancient and out-of-tune piano or an even older and more decrepit hand-cranked phonograph, bearing graffiti from the '50s but certainly older than that. The food deserves comment as well. It's amazingly good, and especially since we've all come from a few weeks of feeding ourselves, the quantities are incredible. I've managed to ingratiate myself with the kitchen, which has got me a few extra pieces of pie so far. The cook tells me I'm also a favorite among the neighborhood children who help in the kitchen, and I have to say I was pleased when a few of them called out to me from their car as I walked up to the library. The food, despite being made on an institutional scale, has definitely something home-cooked about it, which makes me long all the more for the real home-cooked food I began to miss a long time ago.


Anonymous said...

You do a nice job capturing the spirit of the Ferry. I spent a total of more than 2mo there 86-89 training for the Race(s). Best wishes against Harvard.

tanya said...

When are you off to Beijing?

Andrew Cusack said...

You might be interested in a little blog post I wrote on the old Yale boathouse: