Title: Return to UW-Platteville

Date Occurred: Wednesday, November 22, 1989

Date Written: December 16, 1989

Prepared for Web Site: April 26, 2019

Written By: Joel T. Kant

Copyright (c) 2019 by Joel T. Kant


As I drove onto the UW-Platteville campus, my way was blocked. There was a building in the middle of what had been the road. I thought that I remembered Platteville better than that. I didn't have a memory problem. The fieldhouse had a large new addition and the addition blocked the former road.

I parked the car. I only had a few hours to spend here. I was stopping on my way from Champaign-Urbana where I had seen my brother James and his graduate school. Now I was on my way to Wisconsin Rapids, where my parents live.

I walked to the engineering building called Ottensman Hall. The doors and windows which spanned the front were new.

I entered the building. Next to the main engineering office is a bulletin board that still looks the same. It lists students who have made it onto the Dean's List. That board had once announced that Joel T. Kant, a student studying Mining Engineering, had made it on the Dean's list. Several people had asked me when I had changed my major before someone finally told me about the mistake on the bulletin board that had caused those questions. The bulletin board was still there, but nothing of interest to me was on it.

I entered the main engineering office. I asked what office Dr. Paul Gray is in. Gray's office is in the new addition. The fieldhouse wasn't the only building that had been expanded since I had left.

I walked down a hallway past where the building used to end. An opening existed to the floor below. A wall with a railing kept people from falling in.

I found Dr. Gray's office. His door was open and he was at his desk.

I knocked and said, "Hello, Dr. Gray."

Dr. Gray looked at me for about fifteen seconds and replied, "Hello, Joel. You've filled out a lot since I last saw you."

I was impressed that Dr. Gray remembered me. I hadn't seen him in five years. I may have filled out, but Dr. Gray looked considerably thinner than I remembered him.

Dr. Gray told me about the new addition and the new computers that were put into it. It seemed impossible that when I started in 1981, the computer center still used punch cards and the four-year electrical engineering program had only existed for a year.

Dr. Gray asked me what other electrical engineering professors I had. I listed off some names. Dr. Gray said that the professors were long since gone and one of the replacements had been replaced.

A girl with a notepad and book was standing outside Dr. Gray's door. She obviously had a question. I told Dr. Gray that I had some other people to see. As I left, the girl immediately entered.

I went up to the Physics Department. Nobody was in, but I was relieved to see from the names on the doors that the professors I had were still there.

I went up to the third and top floor. This is where the Chemistry Department is located.

I stopped at Dr. Scheppers' office and said, "Hello, Dr. Scheppers."

Dr. Scheppers replied, "Hello, Joel."

I wasn't too surprised that Dr. Gray had remembered me because I had several classes and labs with him. I had Dr. Scheppers for a single semester in 1981 in a class called Freshman Chemistry. I never expected him to remember me.

Dr. Scheppers said, "You were always a very good student."

Dr. Scheppers reached into a desk drawer and pulled out a notebook. He asked me when I had his class and then looked in his book.

"Yes, you got an A. You did very well."

Next, I went to the Math Department. The Math-Science Learning Center was still there. I had worked there for two years as a tutor. However, an empty room that I liked to study in was now occupied and locked. The only place I had liked better for studying was the Physics Lounge. I never liked studying in libraries.

I went to Dr. Tufte's office. I had him for calculus the first semester I was at UW-Platteville. He didn't remember my name, but vaguely remembered my face.

As I was talking to Dr. Tufte, Dr. Richert came in. I send copies of these letters to Dr. Richert. I want him to remember who I am because he makes a good reference for application forms since he is in charge of the Math-Science Learning Center which is where I worked for two years and I also had him for a couple of classes.

I asked Dr. Richert what had happened to the empty study room which used to be just down the hall.

Dr. Richert said, "You can blame Dr. Tufte for that."

Dr. Tufte explained that the room was going to be filled with personal computers. After this, Dr. Tufte started asking me questions about personal computers. How does EGA graphics compare with VGA graphics? What are the advantages of a Macintosh over a IBM? How good are IBM clones?

I answered his questions as best as I could. I think the most useful thing I told him was about using math coprocessors in computers that are going to be doing lots of floating point operations.

I almost felt like I should be charging Dr. Tufte for the information.

Before I went to check out the dorms, I decided to check back at the Physics Department to see if anyone had shown up. Dr. Lind was in. He didn't remember my name.

I had an interesting discussion with him about the changes going on in Germany. He had worked and studied in Berlin. I had been following the events closely since I was taking a class to learn the German language.

I also mentioned the problems I was having with getting graduate school applications forms out.

As I was talking to him, Dr. Domann appeared in the door. His office is right next to Dr. Lind's.

Dr. Domann said, "I thought I heard you over here, Joel."

After leaving the Physics Department, I went to Wilgus Hall. It is a dormitory where I had a room with Alan Raichel. Our room had been filled with electronic equipment which included three computers. Most of the stuff belonged to Al although one of the computers was mine.

Our old room was locked.

Some students saw me standing in the hallway. They were waiting for rides home for Thanksgiving.

One of them asked, "Are you looking for somebody?"

I told them that I used to live there and while I was passing through Platteville, I decided to check if there were any new murals on the walls. However, the murals looked the same as when I had been there.

Somebody asked, "What did you study?"

"Electrical Engineering."

One of the students was studying electrical engineering. He asked if I had had Dr. Gray. I most certainly had.

The student repeated a bunch of phrases that Dr. Gray continually used. The quotes were so familiar I had to laugh. The tamest was "I'll bet you a Mountain Dew."

At one time, I had taken Dr. Gray seriously and had bought a single can of Mountain Dew from the vending machine in the basement of Ottensman Hall. I didn't even drink soda at that time. I consistently put the can on my desk during each of Dr. Gray's classes. It took him three classes before he got it. After the class, he opened the can, took a sip, and complained that it was warm. It would have been cold on the first day.

I left the students and went on to another dormitory called Morrow Hall. I went up to the room where I had been choked and my door had been pounded with a hammer. A sign on the wall announced quiet study hours. How things change! There weren't any quiet hours when I had lived on that wing.

There was only one more place in Platteville I wanted to visit. I stopped at a fraternity house. The fraternity is called TKE and I failed to get into it. My failure consisted of not having enough money to pay the fee to the national organization.

The house was completely dark. Since it was about six in the evening on the day before Thanksgiving, everybody may have already left, but I decided to check. I parked the car and walked up to the door. I knocked and received no answer.

While at the door, I noticed that all the signs announcing that this was the TKE house were gone. Had the fraternity moved to a new house? Was the fraternity still on campus? Was this still the TKE house but the signs had been taken down?

I don't know the answers.

[Note added on March 19, 2019: I later found out the TKE house had been moved to a different house by most of the other fraternities on campus, so that was no longer the TKE house!]


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