New York City Diary

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Location: Brooklyn, New York, United States

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Virginia Vacation

Jenn, Zachary and I recently took a mini-vacation in Virginia, which is where I'm from originally. We flew down to D.C. from LaGuardia and dropped Zach off with my parents in Stafford, Virginia. We spent a night there, and then drove to Virginia Beach for a couple of days of sun and fun. Unfortunately, it rained almost the entire time, so it was all fun, no sun, but that's the way it goes. We had a good time anyway.

I went to Old Dominion University as an undergrad. Since ODU is located in Norfolk, Virginia, which is on the way to Virginia Beach, Jenn and I stopped there to take a look at the old campus. ODU has changed so much since I graduated, with lots of fancy-looking new buildings along the main drag of Hampton Boulevard. I remember there used to be a strip of crappy bars with names like Friar Tuck's and 4400 Club. Actually, Friar Tuck's was kind of fun on Sunday nights (I recall getting greyhounds on dollar drink nights), but "44" was a typically awful den of frat-rock silliness. We drove past my old dormitory, Rogers Hall, which looks more or less the same, except now they have a dock on the water. One time a guy I knew on the hall threw an empty vodka bottle out his window and smashed the windshield of a car parked below. I don't condone such behavior. Anyway, then we drove through the Powhatan neighborhood and past the dorm of the same name. It was pretty much as I remembered it. It had been fifteen years.

Then we took a walk across the commons. It was raining, but not hard. Here's a photo of the main campus area, which is more or less unchanged. Click to enlarge.

And here's a shot of the much-expanded student center. I had a radio show on the campus radio station, WODU, and the studios were in this building. Those were good times. Jenn and I walked through the center and through the bookstore, but didn't buy anything. There actually used to be a rathskeller in Webb Center, but I imagine that's long gone.

Here's a photo of a fountain with a statue of the ODU mascot, the Monarch. In this case, a Monarch is a lion, not a butterfly. How could a butterfly play basketball? A lion, on the other hand, makes an excellent basketball player.

They started building a Maglev train that was supposed to shuttle students across the campus, but it was never finished, and now stands idly by. Kind of sad. Here's a story about how and why it failed.

So we left ODU and drove around the parts of Norfolk I remembered, including my old neighborhood of Ghent, which was really the nicest part of the city. We cruised past my old apartment on Princess Anne, saw the grassy areas of Stockley Gardens which flooded one time while I lived there, and I remember a guy in a kayak padding up the street. I had never been in a flood before, and fortunately my building was spared. The water receded after a couple of hours.

We went up and down Colley Avenue, which is like a downtown street from from some turn of the century small American town. It's funny, because at the time it seemed like that was the place to go, with trendy restaurants like Elliot's drawing the sophisticated crowd. Living in New York City as long as I have now, it seemed awfully small and quiet. Jenn and I enjoyed a nice lunch at a restaurant called Kelly's, which was one of the few places from "back in the day" that's still there. (Colley Cantina is the other, along with the Naro theater and Donut Dinette.) I remember that there was sort of a rivalry between Kelly's and Elliot's across the street (though Elliot's was by far the more posh of the two). There was even graffiti in the restroom of Kelly's that said "Flush twice, it's a long way to Elliot's." I checked to see if that graffiti was still there, but it was not.

So I did my reminiscing, and then we hit the road for Virginia Beach. More on that soon.


Anonymous Anonymous said...


Hope you can make it to the 20th reunion this July (18-20).

erin goodman

1:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So you didnt treat Jenn to a double master burger with cheese at the little dinner on the corner by Colley Cantina?

John gave me crap all the time because once, after a night of partial price pitchers at the cantina, we went to the diner and I asked the female grill jockey how exactly she went about corning her beef hash.

9:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fontana for the win!


9:35 PM  
Blogger alynngram said...

I was amazed of the transformation of the area myself when i went back to visit a few years ago. I was partial to Friar Tucks on Thursday nites "oldies Nite" myself. Remember Speedy's Taco's located behind 4400?

3:18 AM  

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