My St. Andrews
The day in October 1967 when I got of the train in St. Andrews (when there was still a station there), it felt very cold, damp, and gray to me. When I entered Hamilton Hall I was awestruck at the unique architecture and grandeur of the building, though since it had been repurposed from a plush hotel to a student hall of residence in about 1950, the furnishings were certainly more utilitarian, and less designed to impress. I lived there for the most carefree days of my life — not necessarily the easiest, but filled with friends and fun.
I was born and raised in Ohio, and one of my professors at Baldwin-Wallace College, Berea, Ohio, had studied and lived in St. Andrews, and it just sounded like the best place in the world, and I was always up for trying something new. He was a great lecturer as well as raconteur. During my sophomore year I applied to St. Andrews to do my junior year abroad, and was accepted. I remember asking myself if this was good or bad — it was certainly a long way to go on my own! What if I hated it?
No problems there. It took a bit of adjustment to teaching style and expectations, but soon I adapted, and what better place to study medieval history? I also like the fact that I didn’t have to take courses in math and science, only “the arts”, so I got to spend more time doing the things I liked.
Being a student in the late 60’s was great. What better time to come of age. A lot of music comes to mind when I think of that period from Peter, Paul and Mary to Jimi Hendrix. New sounds and groups were coming out all the time, but of course, none could top the Beatles or Rolling Stones. I also brought with me a love of soul music, and converted many to its sound.
I certainly could have been a better student, but it was such a time of freedom — and I don’t mean that in the negative way like drug taking and love-making — but our particular generation was breaking ground in many ways, and questioning many long-held ideas. Life was an adventure.
I met my husband there, and while I was tremendously sad to leave St. Andrews, I took some of it away with me in my spirit and my blood. We lived in London (or survived) for nearly three years, then my husband took a job with a British firm in the in the Washington D.C. area, and we have lived in Virginia ever since.
One of the best decisions we ever made was to buy a house in St. Andrews in 1985. We rent it to University students during the school year, and then stay there ourselves for about a month every summer. When our four children were small, they had so much fun there, and it has been a happy and memorable family experience. It was also a great place to meet up with other members of Paul’s family, especially cousins the same age as our children. The house was often full to bursting with playful children and happy adults.
Now it’s just me and my husband making the annual trip and while we have friends and enjoy their company, and still love the town, it’s not quite the same and when it was a family expedition. But it will always be the home of my heart.