When I was a sophomore at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, I lived in the Honors College dormitory. This dorm (along with nine other newly constructed dormitories) had been completed just one year earlier, so they were highly prized places to live on campus. Instead of sharing a room with a roommate in an old, brick dorm, the Honors College dorm rooms were singles arranged in modules, with six private rooms opening onto a central common living/socializing space with a shared bathroom.
Though the dorm's amenities were new and posh, the real draw for me was that the dormitories had been built on (what was then) the edge of campus. Furthermore, they were located on the floodplain of the Hocking River, which the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had recently diverted into a deep, new rip-rapped channel designed to move floodwaters away from Athens as quickly as possible. Nevertheless, the dorm builders recognized that the river inevitably would flood, so all of the dorms were on stilts, and were connected to one another by walkways raised 20 feet off the ground.
|The new Hocking River channel|
One night, I was in my dorm room looking out the window and thought I noticed a small, dim light in the woods across the river. The light disappeared, then reappeared. This sequence occurred several times. I was entranced and decided to investigate. I couldn't wade the river in the dark (even I'm not that stupid), so I made the long trek across the bridge to the other side of the river, keeping my eye on the dim light all the while. I finally got to a point where I could leave the road and head into the woods.
There, in a small clearing, was a scruffy young man with a ratty backpack huddled over a tiny fire. He probably wasn't much younger than I (who was 20 years old at the time). I'm certain that I must have surprised and startled him as I appeared out of the gloom. To this day, I don't recall anything about this young man, though I'm sure he was either hitchhiking or homeless. In any case, I invited this kid to come back to my dorm room with me and to sleep on my floor for the night, and he assented. When I woke up in the morning, he was gone - and he didn't take a single thing from my room.
Nowadays, I wouldn't even consider doing such a thing - and I probably shouldn't have back then, either. At the very least, he could have robbed me (but how much money could a lower-middle-class student have to steal?) and or/beaten me up. Foolish, naive, innocent youth.