Eye On Wisconsin

18 Mar

I went to the eye doctor last week and lasted about three minutes before I started telling him about my roller derby class. He said he was very appreciative of the sport because he used to play goalie in hockey.

“Were you any good?” I couldn’t help but ask.

“Must’ve been… I played on my college team for two years.” I smiled appreciatively but couldn’t talk due to my chin resting on a platform so he could blind me in just the right spot with the various lights. (At least I assume it was multiple lights. Perhaps the goal of the eye torture device is to make you see double.)

Since he was a very nice man, I was curious. “Who did you play for?” I asked, expecting the name of a small and well-meaning school. Macalester, Dartmouth, etc.

“The University of…” he paused, perhaps for emphasis, “Wisconsin.”

Eye On Wisconsin (Story O'Clock)At this point, Badger bells went off in my head. As all alumni know, meeting a fellow Badger is equivalent to discovering a distant cousin you never knew you had. And, if all goes well, frolicking off into the sunset with linked arms is the end goal. Or is that just me?

“I’m a Badger too!” I said, trying to wrap my brain around the fact that not only is my trusted eye doctor of many years a Badger, but that my eye doctor was a Badger hockey goalie.

After various forms of light torture to each dilated pupil, we shared graduation years. When he said 1969, I realized what that meant.

“So you were there for the protests?”

“Oh yes,” he said, shaking his head. “It got to be so bad that by spring semester of my senior year, I wouldn’t leave my apartment to go to class. It was too dangerous.”

He then proceeded to tell me horror stories from my very own campus. Tear gas thrown into lecture halls for no reason. Linebackers taking out police so students could escape. ROTC kids with their fingers on machine guns pointed at student buildings. I always enjoyed sharing protest facts with visiting friends (two buildings I often frequented were specifically built so that students couldn’t take them over, for example), but I hadn’t really stopped to think what life was like on a daily basis for students just like me until I heard about it firsthand.

And this is why my blog is called Story O’Clock. It’s been said a million times in countless ways, but stories connect us. They define us. They carry on our legacies. It’s all fine and good to read about the student protests of the sixties in a textbook, but talking to a real person who was there gives it real meaning.

Listen to your elders, kid. You just might learn something.

(And can I just mention one more time that my eye doctor played goalie for the Badgers hockey team?!?)


One Response to “Eye On Wisconsin”

  1. Sandy October 17, 2013 at 12:09 pm #

    Just read this! Wish I’d read it before! Really enjoyed it.

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