the_other_sandy: Yomiko Readman hugging a book (Agt. Paper Chibi)
Last month I found out my undergrad college was going to demolish the dorm I lived in junior year. Although I lived in another dorm longer, Higgins was the one where I met all the friends I still keep in touch with, and one of them (Cheryl) organized a reunion for us to watch the building come down.

We hit Q Lot for breakfast tailgating by 7:30 this morning. There weren't a ton of people there yet--maybe a few dozen--but there was a camera guy from WQAD walking around looking for shots. We were setting up in our usual chaotic fashion and laughing a lot, so he stopped to do a little filming. Then he found out that we'd all lived in Higgins at the same time (many of us on the same floor) and he settled in and practically shot a documentary of us tailgating for probably half an hour. He really wanted an interview too, so we volunteered Cheryl. She talked about all of us meeting for dinner every night and meeting her husband there (he lived on our floor too), and the camera guy seemed happy even without knowing we were also all in the same AD&D campaign together spring semester.

His producer must have been happy too, because he and another WQAD staffer came back later and said they wanted to film our reaction to the building implosion. So instead of the place we had originally planned to watch, the news crew guided us down to a spot right across the street and just this side of the tape blocking off the demolition area. They pointed the big camera at Higgins and mounted a tiny camera on the tripod pointed at us and pried some more stories out of us while we waited.

I've seen controlled demolitions on TV before and there was always an all-clear siren blast and a countdown before the charges went off. I've since seen videos shot from University Drive and there were several blasts and a countdown, but we couldn't hear anything from where we were. I was just yakking away with people and counting drones overhead (there were probably 8-10 of them) when there was a really loud bang, which scared a year off my life. That was followed by two sequences of smaller blasts and then the whole building came down. That was great for about a minute until we were enveloped in the cloud of silica dust. 8-)

Some of us went to the university bookstore afterward (I'd wanted to replace my alumni car window decal that got scorched brown during a heat wave in 2012), but we had to detour around a road closure on the way and wound up passing the student parking lot for Higgins. It was open, so we got to walk up to within 100 yards of the debris pile.

Things wrapped up pretty quickly after that because most of us had long drives home (mine was 4 hours, while covered in a lovely mixture of sunblock and silica dust). I didn't go straight home, though. After driving through all the big fat bugs in the world in western Illinois farm country and having most of them stuck to the front of my car, I went directly to my favorite car wash to have them do their bug treatment before the bug guts baked into an impenetrable layer.

I had wanted to try to shoot video of the building implosion on my iPod, but while I was packing up this morning to check out of the hotel, I put my iPod in the electronics pocket of my backpack because that's where it lives during the week. Then I put the backpack in my trunk. That wouldn't have been a problem, except I ran into J and Cheryl and they offered me a ride to Q Lot, so my iPod stayed at the hotel while I went tailgating. Oh, well. I wouldn't have gotten any footage anyway, because I would've been waiting for the countdown that never came to start filming.

Here's someone who was filming from the opposite side of the building from where we were. The part where the camera jumps a mile before it steadies was the initial bang we weren't expecting because we couldn't hear the countdown.



This one was filmed from the Higgins parking lot where we eventually ended up to view the pile.



And here's a drone view of the debris pile. It looks like the staircase I used to use to get up to the cafeteria (I lived on 18 and the cafeteria was on 19) survived almost intact.





I watched the 6:00 p.m. news on WQAD. There was a nice segment on the implosion and our whole group was in it, including me. Hopefully I can snag a copy of it from somewhere and embed it here later.



ETA: The news segment is now up on WQAD's Facebook page. You don't need a Facebook account to view it.
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