Sunday, November 16, 2008

My Alma Mater

Tucked away in the hills above Santa Barbara, Westmont College thrives with a beautiful campus, neighboring many magnificent, stately mansions, many built during the 1920s. I was a student there for my freshman and junior years of college. I loved every minute I attended!!

So it was with real sadness, I heard about the fires and the destruction to parts of our lovely campus. Below are two pictures which are representative of the structure and surroundings of the campus before the fire.

A friend sent me this email today which describes the scene on campus.

"At Westmont College the air was dense with smoke and the scent of burning pine. Flames chewed through a eucalyptus grove on the 135 acre campus and destroyed several buildings housing the physics and psychology departments, a dormitory and at least one faculty home, college spokesman, Scott Craig said. "I saw flames about 100 feet high in the air shooting up with the wind just howling," he told AP Radio. "Now when the wind howls, and you've got palm trees and eucalyptus trees that are literally exploding with their hot oil, you've got these big, red-hot embers that are flying through the sky and are catching anything on fire." Hundreds of students fled to the gym where they spent the night sleeping on the floor. Some stood in groups praying; others sobbed openly and comforted each other. Beth Lazor, 18, said she was in her dorm when the alarm went off. She said she only had time to grab her laptop, phone, a teddy bear and a debit card before fleeing the burning building. Her roommate, Catherine Wilson, said she didn't have time to get anything. "I came out, and the whole hill was glowing, " Wilson said. "There were embers falling down."

Although its been 58 years since my freshman year in college, many of my life's fondest memories originate in that little college which has grown and flourished over the years.


Kim said...

What a shame! Being native Californian for most of my life, I am still overly cautious of fires. It makes my hubby laugh when I worry about fireworks and such when the Oregon ground is damp with a recent rain. :D

Ruthie said...

So sorry. It's really a shame.
Glad you have such wonderful memories of your alma mater. We'll continure to pray about the fires there.

Anonymous said...

Did I tell you that Mark's daughter, Breanna, transfered into Westmont this year so she has been right in the middle of the fire etc. She lives in Clark Hall but her dorm did not burn but several right near hers did burn. Isn't it a shame but some of the little buildings that burned were going to be torn down for a new building that was just started a couple of weeks ago. 14 faculty homes burned - they were fairly new and built up above where the track and baseball field is. I'm just thankful that no kids were hurt. Bre thinks they may go back to school on Wednesday. If you go on westmont there are a lot of pictures that some student took. Hope all is well with you. The fire at Westmont is called the Tea fire because it started up at the top of the "mountain" where there was that old structure - had pillars etc - and was a tea place. I'm sure you remember it. Love, Donna

Anonymous said...

I wondered why it was called the Tea Fire! And of course I remember the place at the top of the hill. If I remember right, it had Greek columns, and was quite the romantic for college kids to go and look at the moon and stars.....oh gosh...what a tragedy! That whole Montecito area was just so beautiful and I still remember the delioious smell of the Eucalyptus trees which lined the road leading into the college campus. I shared my sophomore year there with Joan. Lo! these many years ago!!

Deborah said...

I am sorry to hear how this fire has touched you so dearly! Thank God that everyone is okay. They can always rebuild. I have packed and evacuated more times than I can count through the years from Malibu to San Diego! We were terrorized by the Witch Creek Fire devastation last October. Our home was spared, but many of our neighbors were not! The evacuation was the worst one I have ever been through at 3 AM! I barely made it down our mountain road as trees fell behind me! I will never ever be the same now when the fires start up! My lungs were so bad from the dreadful air conditions! I ended up the hospital and my body went south and I was in a failing state with my diseases. The stress of the fires brought it on and I was put in a private room for several days.
It is very strange to come home and see the scars of the eart as it looks as if a bomb had it the area! Many many acres, in the thousands, and over 300 homes were lost! I thank the lord for shaving our home and feel as though our mountain is mighty and strong.
I do hope nobody was hurt at the college. I heard today the Tea Fire has been fully contained.
My dD posted on my behalf last October on my blog. Take care, Deb

Amy said...

Sure sorry to hear of this. It is hard to understand sometimes what happens. I am so glad you have wonderful memories that can never change!!